Friday, April 29, 2011

An interview with The Pierces

I've been babbling on about The Pierces and their gothic carnival pop-rock since September last year. In the intervening six months, they've been off on tour with Lissie, made it onto Radio 2's A-List and finally got round to completing their new album, You & I.

The latest single from that record is called Glorious. Perfectly suited for the hazy nights of late spring, it's a dreamy, close harmony lament with soaring strings and a twingy twangy guitar riff. Critics will undoubtedly draw comparisons with The Bangles and The Go-Gos, which is (a) a lazy assumption about all-girl bands, and (b) entirely accurate.

The video correctly focuses on how sisters Catherine and Allison Pierce are, in common parlance, "total babes".

The Pierces - Glorious

I was lucky enough to interview The Pierces last month in the plush Penthouse suite they call home while they're in London. It's for a feature that'll be published on the BBC website towards the end of May, when their album comes out in the UK. I thought you might like a sneak peek (sneak listen?). So here's six minutes of it.

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Thursday, April 28, 2011

Distressing images from Lykke Li

Poor old Lykke Li isn't having a great time of it.

Last week, she cancelled concerts and radio appearances after throwing her back out. A posting on her official blog yesterday revealed she'd had some sort of raspberry-related panic attack in the Glasgow branch of Marks and Spencer (which begs the question: why don't gorgeous Scandinavian alt-pop stars shop in my local branch of M&S? I'd be perfectly happy to help out when they spill their raspberries.)

Perhaps the strain of touring the country and repeatedly singing about the bleak dissolution of her last relationship is starting to take a mental toll on Lykke Li? It's a theory backed up by the, frankly upsetting, video for her new single Sadness Is A Blessing, in which she has some sort of "episode" in a posh restaurant.

The singer introduced the video on her website with a short poem.

I know I Broke
Your heart, it was never
My intention, all I
Ever wanted was to


Lykke Li - Sadness Is A Blessing

In happier news, Lykke was off her sick bed on Tuesday night to record a few tracks for Jools Holland. They'll be shown on BBC Two tomorrow night - and this lithsome version of Get Some went out on Tuesday's live show.

Lykke Li - Get Some (Live)

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Beastie Boys: The Sitcom

Fight For Your Right: Revisited is a cameo-filled, knockabout farce courtesy of The Beastie Boys. The concept, such as it is, is that the 1986-era Beastie Boys (Volkswagen pendants, snarling lips, inflatable phalluses) tangle with future versions of themselves (socially conscious Tibetan freedom fighters who occasionally remember to make awesome rap records).

It's been called a short film. It's been called a megavideo. I reckon it's a brilliant pilot for a sitcom. Suggested titles for this Beastie Boys comedy include:
  • Hello, Nasty!!!
  • Third Ad Rock From The Sun.
  • Ill & Grace.
  • Fight For Your Right To Partridge Family.
  • Actually, this idea's rubbish. Let's move on.

Fight For Your Right: Revisited premiered last night in Greenwich, New York. It was posted online shortly afterwards... And here it is.

Beastie Boys - Fight For Your Right: Revisited

Did you spot all the cameos? The cast-list includes... Will Ferrell, Seth Rogen, Elijah Wood, Jack Black, Danny McBride, John C. Reilly, Susan Sarandon, Stanley Tucci, Rainn Wilson, Rashida Jones, Orlando Bloom, Jason Schwartzman, Steve Buscemi, Chloe Sevigny, Kirsten Dunst, Maya Rudolph, Laura Dern, Amy Poehler, Shannyn Sossamon, Alicia Silverstone, David Cross. And The list goes on.

You can also check out a full stream of the Beastie Boys' new album Hot Sauce Committee Pt 2 on the end of this link.

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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Holy Ghost! break out the dadrock

Holy Ghost! are the less demanding, less pretentious LCD Soundsystem. That means crisp, strutting disco funk with proper melodies in the bits where James Murphy would have recorded another shouty megaphone rant about his mid-life crisis.

Their latest single, Wait & See, is probably their weakest so far. But, given that previous releases include the almighty Static On The Wire and Do It Again, that's not a major criticism.

The video is properly brilliant, though: Nick Millhiser and Alex Frankel (for they are the spectral duo in question) are replaced by their dads. Misters Millhiser and Frankel Snr are shown recording the song, signing autographs and rifling through creates of vinyl. They look like they're having a blast.

Holy Ghost - Wait & See

[Insert your own "fathers, sons and Holy Ghost!" pun here]

Holy Ghost! also have an album. It is excellent. Particularly in the sun, with a charred burger in one hand and a sparkly gingermint cocktail in the other (remind me to give you a recipe for that one day - it's amazing). The album is imaginatively called Holy Ghost! and you can purchase it on Amazon.

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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

A Free mp3 from a random collection of consonants

Hello, pop reader. Today I am going to introduce you to some of the most thrilling sentences in the modern musical vernacular. They are taken from the "making of" documentary for MNDR's new video, Cut Me Out.

Hold on to your chairs, here we go:
  • "This project came about organically."
  • "What Ivan did was to take this commercially available product and augment it for us to create a tool to capture Amanda's performance"
  • "The basic story is of an individual who has layers of things put on them."

I'm going to stop there, in case the explicit nature of those quotes induces some sort of erotic episode in your trouserlegs. But for the full, uncensored effect, you should watch the full, four-and-a-half-minute rockumentary. You won't be disappointed (you will).

As it happens, MNDR is / are excellent. She is / they are Amanda Warner and / or Peter Wade, and they / she / it basically represent a New York Art School riposte to La Roux. IE They are very good indeed.

MNDR first came to our attention with a guest spot on Mark Ronson's Bang Bang Bang last year, which was swiftly followed up by the free MP3, I Go Away, a cyber-ballad with unexpected emotional heft.

Cut Me Out, on the other hand, is a very insistent song; the synth-pop equivalent of Sainsbury's self check-out machines. "Please put your items in the bagging area," it chimes passive-aggresively, unaware that you're drunk and you've just dropped all your coins over the floor and your mum's calling your mobile and an elderly woman who's come out to buy 2 litres of Vimto in her dressing gown is tutting at you under her breath. Stop it! You're giving me a panic attack.

Ahem... Here is the video.

MNDR - Cut Me Out

Like it? You can get the single for free at the Green Label Sound website.
[LINK: MNDR - Cut Me Out download page]

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Friday, April 22, 2011

Jive (Easter) Bunny

As regular readers might know, I grew up in Northern Ireland in the 1980s. It was an era when Christianity was a fact of life and Religious Education was a compulsory subject at GCSE. Although I'm not a regular church-goer now, I remain fond of those Bible teachings that haven't been distorted into a demented manifesto for small-minded intolerance.

At it's best, religion taught me to look at the world with a sense of awe and gratitude and compassion. That is perfectly alright by me.

I could never get to grips with the music, though. Hymns were tolerable - the bad ones have been filtered out over hundreds of years, after all. It was all that drippy "Jesus is a sunbeam" bollocks that made me want to impale myself on a candelabra like a macabre Marilyn Manson wannabe.

So, just in time for Easter, here are five songs with a religious theme that are 100% not rubbish. I bet they wouldn't play any of them in St Paul's Cathedral, mind.

1) Regina Spektor - Laughing With

Because God has a sense of humour, even if you don't (cf the Duck Billed Platypus).

2) Kanye West - Jesus Walks

Because you can't get Prince's back catalogue on YouTube. if you could, this video would either be The Cross (from Sign O'The Times) or Eye Know (from Lovesexy). They're both amazing.

3) U2 - Until End Of The World

In which Bono plays the character of Judas, betraying Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. Alternatively, it's about fighting with your wife at a party thrown by The Great Gastby. From the brief "good period" in U2's career.

4) Nerina Pallot - God Of Small Things

I particularly like the lyrics of this one. Nerina has doubts about God's existence, but has a few ideas of what her "ideal" creator would be like. In honesty, most church-goers are exactly like this, and I prefer them to the staunch, immovable fundamentalists. To quote Kevin Smith's film, Dogma: "Having belief is a bad thing. It's better to have ideas... You can change an idea. Changing a belief is trickier."

5) The Headhunters - God Made Me Funky


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Thursday, April 21, 2011

Beyonce on a horse

Beyoncé is releasing her new single, Girls (Who Run The World) tomorrow. Does that make it Double Good Friday?

UPDATE: It is on sale now. Here is that iTunes link you've been waiting for.

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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

New music: Alex Winston - Sister Wife

Ok, this one isn't that new. Alex Winston's Sister Wife has been out approximately one million times already. This year alone, it's been available as a free download (January) and an EP (February). Disappointingly, no-one noticed, so Island Records has stepped in to release it properly with a marketing budget and a press release and everything.

Luckily, the song is quite brilliant. Imagine the works of PJ Harvey sung by a smurf, and you're halfway there. Woozy and whimsical, Sister Wife is a musing on the benefits of polygamy (watch out, Lady Gaga). More importantly, it's quirky musicality marks Winston out as the first competent US response to the likes of Florence and Adele and Lily and Marina.

Some other facts about Alex Winston:
  • Alex describes her voice as "high-pitched" and "nasal".
  • She has toured with Chuck Berry.
  • She plays guitar, ukulele, piano and drums.
  • She is also learning the accordion.
  • Her album is produced by 'hotly-tipped New York duo' The Knocks.
  • Everyone says she is 19, but Alex insists she is 23.
  • But that's exactly what you'd expect a 19-year-old to say, isn't it?
  • Alex is a brunette.
  • That is all I know about Alex Winston right now.

Here is her single.
Alex Winston - Sister Wife

Here is a very good remix of her single.
Alex Winston - Sister Wife (Star Slinger Remix)

And here is Alex performing the single in a canteen at the Parisian office of a major multinational corporation.

Alex Winston - Sister Wife (live acoustic)

Trés bien, non? Grab a free, legal mp3 of the track here.

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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Beyoncé vs Lady Gaga: The verdict

Two titans of pop music, two cacophonous singles. Who wins?

Lady Gaga: Judas

"Joo-da / Jud-a-ah-ah / Joo-da / Ju-da-Gaga". Lady Gaga's producer, Red One, says they use nonsense words in all of their songs because it means fans can sing along when English isn't their first language. All very clever, but the law of diminishing returns applies here. Judas's refrain is hookier than Peter Hook on a fishing trip with Captain Hook, but it's no wannyobarrromanzze.

The comparisons to Gaga's biggest hit keep coming: The same structure, the same Eurodance arrangement, the same spoken word section... but the melody is weaker - so why not listen to Bad Romance instead?

Lyrically, it's all over the shop. The central metaphor - that Gaga's lover will betray her like Judas betrayed Jesus - is great. But Judas didn't betray Jesus three times (that was Peter) and no-one washed his feet with their hair (that was Lazarus's sister, Mary, washing Jesus' feet). For someone who constantly guffs on about her Catholic School education, Lady Gaga's a bit shaky on the old Bible facts.

But the biggest problem is that Judas doesn't feel like a coherent song. The key components are all sound - and the "break of dawn" bridge is spectacular - but they don't fit together. To give her the benefit of the doubt, it could be an avant-garde commentary on the artifice of contemporary pop. On the other hand, it sounds thrown together like a bad salad.

As with Born This Way before it, then, Judas is only rescued by Gaga's dizzying levels of self-belief. It's not as bad as it's detractors would have you believe, but nowhere near as good as her best work.


Lady Gaga - Judas


Beyoncé: Girls (Who Run The World)

On the surface, this has a lot in common with Judas. Beyoncé revisits her trademark sound (the marching band braggadocio of Lose My Breath) and, lyrically, she's treading old ground (women are quite good, aren't they?)

The ace up her sleeve is timing. While Bad Romance is still fresh in our minds, Beyoncé has been off the scene long enough for this to feel like the welcome return of a long-lost friend.

Not that she's resting on her laurels. The intricate vocal arrangements and finger-popping production fizz like sherbet in your ears. Lyrically, there's a playfulness that Gaga's 'verr verr important statementzzz' have been missing of late. My favourite couplet? "We're strong enough to bear the children... Then get back to bidness."

On first listen, Girls (Who Run The World) is so busy it's disorientating but, believe me, you'll be setting your iPod to "repeat (one)" as soon as it's over.


Beyonce - Girls (Who Run The World)

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Monday, April 18, 2011

Bruno Mars: The Lazy Song

The tune is an Olly Murs / Jack Johnson cod reggae snoozefest, but you can't fault Bruno Mars' new video. Always nice to see a pop star who doesn't take themselves too seriously.

Bruno Mars: The Lazy Song

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Friday, April 15, 2011

A song and dance from Britney Spears

Britney has finally remembered to release the "dance edit" of her new video, Til The World Ends.

It has been clear for a while now that Ms Spears isn't the dancer she once was, and this video was presumably supposed to combat such claims. It doesn't quite succeed (the lacklustre handclaps around the 1'50" mark are especially dire). But I think we're all forgetting one important thing here: Britney Spears has two children, and is merely fulfilling her genetic destiny by dancing like your mum.

Although if my mum went out dressed like this, I might pretend to have been orphaned in a terrible accident.

Britney Spears - Til The World Ends (Dance Edit)

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Load up your iPod for the weekend

A few morsels of music for the Marathon weekend...

1) Zooey Deschanel & M Ward - Winnie The Pooh
Don't get Mrsdiscopop started on the Disney-fication of AA Milne's chubby bear. But the house of mouse has redeemed itself by getting dreamy Zooey Deschanel to soundtrack the latest film from 100 Acre Wood. Whimsical.

2) Santigold ft Karen O - Go
This popped up on Jay-Z's new Life + Times website last night (it's basically a pimped up Huffington Post). Produced by Q-Tip, it's a welcome return for the palatable M.I.A.

3) The Naked & Famous - The Sun
New Zealand's Naked & Famous are going to be my festival band of the summer. Their debut - Passive Me, Aggressive You - is a really smart, intricate pop album. If you've only heard the bright and punchy singles, take a listen to this session track for an idea of how they blossom over the course of 50 minutes.

4) Clock Opera - Belongings
Clock Opera is Guy Connelly, production whiz and all-round chop-pop guru. His version of Marina And The Diamonds' I Am Not A Robot was undeniably the best remix of 2010, and his new single is just as good. Vocally, he sounds uncannily like Guy Garvey, but this record has none of Elbow's po-faced aspirations towards deep'n'meaningful artistic statements. It is just very good indeed.

5) Tim & Jean - Come Around
Here's another Antipodean pop act who bear more than a passing resemblance to Passion Pit. Tim & Jean are teenagers Tim Ayre and Jean-Christophe Capotorto - the latter of which is the best pop star name since Dananananaykroyd.

6) Ghost Poet - Survive It
Coventry-born rapper Ghost Poet has one of those voices that would sound calm and reassuring, even if he was reading Mein Kampf to a kindergarten. Luckily, he's a bit more responsible than that... In fact, this single brings to mind Buffalo Springfield's For What It's Worth, both lyrically and musically. It also serves as a trailer for the magnificently-titled album Peanut Butter Blues and Melancholy Jam.

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Thursday, April 14, 2011

Let's dance with Nerina Pallot

Nerina Pallot's slinky new single Put Your Hands Up is habit forming. The habit involves listening to Nerina Pallot's Put Your Hands Up three or four times a day, so it's not necessarily a bad habit your mum would disapprove of, like biting your nails or murdering prostitutes.

The song now has a video, and what a cute video it is: A one-shot, feel-good affair where everyone "spontaneously" starts dancing to Nerina's very good song. It reeks of cheese, but an impeccably crafted, expensive cheese e.g. Roquefort or Matzoh Brie. So it would taste nice on a Carr's Water Biscuit.

Basically, everything about this is brilliant. Congratulations to everyone concerned.

Nerina Pallot - Put Your Hands Up

Released 23rd May. Which is aaaaages away.

Update: Now it's out on 24th April. I'm taking responsibility for that one.

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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

New discovery: Channel Swimmer

Back in the 80s, there was a movement called Sampladelia. Dozens of Deee-Liteful crate diggers would delve into dusty stacks of vinyl and squeeze up against those rare grooves. The music - Groove Is In The Heart, 3 Is The Magic Number, My Definition Of A Boombastic Jazz Style - was funny, clever, inclusive, camp and, above all, fun.

Then the lawyers got involved...

Nowadays, sample clearance is such a minefield that you can only get away with it if you're mega rich (Jay-Z) or wilfully perverse (The Avalanches). And I'd like to introduce you to someone who falls into the latter camp.

His name is Channel Swimmer. He used to be Organ Morgan (amazing) and his parents know him as Matthew Mayes. Listening to his collected works on Soundcloud, you get the impression that this is a man who enjoys a balmy night on the beach. Bursting with juicy psychedelia, his sun-scorched Super 8 soundscapes will lodge in your brain like sand between your toes.

"It's very much in the same vein as The Avalanches, and was heavily inspired by their one and only album," he told Music Leech last year. "I'm basically having a lot of fun cutting the summery bits out of all my old and dusty vinyl."

Sample a couple of Channel Swimmer's tracks below, but promise me you'll go to his Soundcloud page too. There's a song there called Scent Of Rainy Pavements that'll make you grin wider than a tickled hyena.

Channel Swimmer - Zulu

Channel Swimmer - Charade

Footnote 1: According to his Twitter account, Matthew occasionally swims the channel. Jpegs please.

Footnote 2: Thanks to Ian Cottrell for the tip-off.

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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

You don't need to be coy, Roy

We were discussing the rumour that Paul Simon is going to play Glastonbury this summer, when my colleague Matt pulled up this video of Steve Gadd attempting to teach the drum riff from 50 Ways To Leave Your Lover. I adore the unadorned look of utter contempt for his off-screen pupil.

Gadd's 50 Ways

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Monday, April 11, 2011

Janet Jackson "bitten by a monkey"

This weekend, my wife was cleaning out the Discopop archives and stumbled across this gem: The first ever entertainment news story I wrote for the BBC. Penned back in 2001, it combined two of my then-obsessions: Janet Jackson and Alan Partridge. I'd argue it's the best thing I've written before or since.

As you can probably imagine, this was never intended for publication - although it probably still resides somewhere on the BBC's internal training servers. Indeed, I like to think that, after the apocalypse, a resilient team of survivors will emerge from their underground cave system, after centuries of destitution have erased all knowledge of the world we now call home. At some point, as they try to rebuild society, they will stumble across the BBC's training servers and, using primitive methods of data extraction, piece together the most surreal image of pre-armageddon civilisation you could imagine.

If for some reason, you'd like a PDF of this momentous document, you can click this link. [Janet's Monkey Trauma - PDF]

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Friday, April 8, 2011

A message of some concern

Readers, we have a problem. It's been obvious for a while and I'm going to have to come right out and say it: All of our pop stars are boring.

Think about it. Out of all the people on planet pop, is there anyone you'd take out for a pint? If you discard the ones you want to hug and kiss, it's a pretty dismal list.

Now, I'm only referring to the UK here. Over in the States, they've got Katy Perry shooting whipped cream out of her tits and scandalising Sesame Street. Kanye West is a demented Narcissus, simultaneously compelled and tormented by his own mirror image. Janelle Monae is so barking she might turn into a spaniel. And then there's Lady Gaga. You know the one - dresses in bacon, lives in an egg, not the full English Breakfast...

They are all incredible pop stars.

By contrast, let's look at the defining characteristics of Britain's best acts:

  • Tinie Tempah - loves his mum
  • Ellie Goulding - goes for a run every now and again
  • Leona Lewis - is so blessed just to be here
  • Little Boots - owns a synthesizer
  • Olly Murs - total bellend
  • Eliza Doolittle - barely registers as a living organism
  • Katy B - marrying Prince William [subs - please check]

Some would argue The X Factor is to blame for the bland, safe nature of our pop stars. I disagree. It's the tabloids.

Two of the most interesting characters the UK music industry has nurtured in recent years are Amy Winehouse and Robbie Williams. Each was hounded out of the country, perilously close to ending their lives, after being pursued and bullied by the British press. I'm not saying Amy and Robbie weren't personally responsible for those self-destructive impulses - but the tabloids helpfully led them to the edge of the precipice and whispered "bet you're too chicken to jump". If that's the way the deck is stacked, can you blame Lily Allen for getting out of the game?

But there is hope yet. Adele is pleasingly indiscreet, slagging off her ex-boyfriends and complaining about "eBay weirdos" taking pictures of "my dog doing a shit". Marina Diamond and Paloma Faith are great British eccentrics with fiery Mediterranean blood coursing through their veins. And there's always the one-man Twitter tornado that is Calvin Harris who, if he isn't having a tiff with Katy Perry, is providing thoughful analysis of the social and economic issues that affect us all.

So here is my plea to pop stars of the UK: Brush up your act. Stop being so earnest. Good behaviour is not expected. Show us your personality. Or invent a better one. Sacrifice a goat. Slap a fan in the face. Join Jedward, then kill Jedward. Overdose on Zoom lollies. Tattoo your face with a picture of Gary Barlow's face. Cover yourself in glue and roll around in macaroni.

And if all else fails, join Twitter and tell us about your plums.

Many thanks,

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Boys on Film

The trailer for the new Beastie Boys movie is basically amazing.

Beastie Boys - Fight For Your Right (Revisited)

The veteran rap act's new song, Make Some Noise, is also worth three minutes of your life. It leaked on Wednesday, so Mike D posted the full track on The Beastie Boys' official blog last night, explaining:

This wasn’t really part of the plan, but since this track is out there we wanted to let you hear it here first, or maybe second. Enjoy.

Here is the link you require: Beastie Boys - Tumblr

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Thursday, April 7, 2011

Some news from Roz at Atlantic Records

What makes a good press release? I'll tell you what makes a good press release: A totally irelevant picture of two Basset Hounds.

So thanks to Roz at Atlantic Records who has (a) made my day and (b) achieved the goal of gaining exposure for her artists on the UK's 2,772,923rd most-popular music blogTM.

First up is Ed Sheeran. He's been around for a while. So long, in fact, that he's deleted an embarassing teenage biography from his website. Here's what the Google cache of that document reveals:

"Ed shares his time between living in London, where he writes, records and gigs, and his home town of Framlingham, Suffolk. Since winning the 2008 Next Big Thing competition in East Anglia, Ed has attracted the attention of drum and bass legend, Goldie. After seeing him play live in London, Goldie commented: 'I think he's going to be giant.'"

Gigantism hasn't quite caught up with Ed yet - but his new One Shot EP might trigger the required growth spurt. It's trending on Twitter and everything.

The reason for this is his latest video: A looped, a capella version of traditional British folk song Wayfaring Stranger, as arranged by Jamie Woon.

Ed Sheeran - Wayfaring Stranger

After that tiny triumph, the press release moves on...

"In about 6 months, remember that I sent you this song," says Roz, pointing to a luscious track, by Chase & Status vocalist Delilah.

It's called Breathe, and has that blissed-out summer vibe that Sia captured so well on Zero 7's debut album. An absolutely perfect headphones track for when you're falling asleep on a picnic blanket.

Delilah - Breathe

The press release tails off a bit at this point. There's something about the inexplicably-popular Rumer, and the release date for James Blunt's new single. After that, frankly, I gave up.

PS: Roz, who is genuinely very nice indeed, is on Twitter - @Rozzerm. Let's all send her a message asking for James Blunt's autograph.

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Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The music of silence

That's the Pussycat Dolls sealing their lips. Not for the good of humanity, you understand, but to promote their Shhh lingerie range back in 2008.

Despite (or perhaps because of) the Pussycats' inexplicable decision to keep singing, I've become preoccupied with musicians being quiet. Let me tell you why...

A couple of weeks ago, my colleague at the BBC News Website Tim Masters dropped me a line saying he'd interviewed author Jennifer Egan about her new book A Visit From The Goon Squad. One of the chapters in this Orange Prize-nominated novel takes the form of a Powerpoint presentation, which details 12 of the greatest pauses in rock music - those little, unexpected moments of calm that are guaranteed to ruin any game of musical chairs. Here they are in no particular order.

  • Foxy Lady - Jimi Hendrix
  • Please Play This Song on the Radio - NOFX
  • Good Times, Bad Times - Led Zeppelin
  • Bernadette - The Four Tops
  • Young Americans - David Bowie
  • Mighty Sword - The Frames
  • Supervixen - Garbage
  • Long Train Runnin’ - The Doobie Brothers
  • The Time of the Season - The Zombies
  • Faith - George Michael
  • Closing Time - Semisonic
  • Roxanne - The Police
  • Rearrange Beds - An Horse

Tim sent me a chunk of his interview and suggested it might make a decent feature on 6 Music... I agreed, and set off to ask some musicians about the science of silence, and along the way I bumped into Dr Victoria Williamson (who runs an excellent blog on the psychology of music). It all turned into this radio package, which aired yesterday.

Sometimes I love my job...

Footnote one: The chapter in A Visit From The Goon Sqaud also works as a standalone short story. It's available for free online - just click on this link.

Footnote two: Jennifer's list is far from exhaustive. I'd have included the "STOP!" moment from Britney's Crazy, or the almighty gap before the first verse of The Foo Fighters' Monkey Wrench. Any more ideas out there?

Footnote three: Tim's interview with Jennifer Egan can be found here.

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Britney Spears' totally finished videogram

That didn't take long, did it? 24 hours after the trailer, Britney's released the full video for Til The World Ends. Here's a still.

"Important" observations about this image

1) Britney has employed an old Hollywood trick called forcing focus. Just before the camera rolled, she pointed at the ceiling and said "look everyone, a spider". Result: Everyone except Britney is staring out of frame, and she becomes the main subject of the shot. Genius.

2) Britney has been forced to wear gay Spider-Man's cast-offs.

Here is the video "in full".

Britney Spears - Til The World Ends

According to choreographer Brian Friedman says another edit, which he calls "a full dance version" will be out soon. That should be interesting, given Popjustice's accurate observation that the director has been forced to cut around Britney's ropey dancing in the original.

(NB: Just noticed that Popjustice took a screengrab of the same part of the video as I did. How strange is that?)

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Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Britney Spears' partially-complete videogram

It's been in the "shops" for a month now, but Britney Spears has only just got around to shooting a video for Til The World Ends. A teaser clip hit the internet this morning and, to be honest, everyone involved should just stop work now - because you could put these 30 seconds on a day-long loop and I'd be perfectly happy...

Or at least, I'd be happy if someone hadn't pointed out the similarity between Britney's "woah-oh-oh" chorus and Baltimora's Tarzan Boy. Now I can't listen to one without hearing the other. After this, you won't be able to, either.

Britney Spears - Til The World Ends (trailer)

Apparently there are two versions of this video on the way. You can insert your own joke about the frequency of buses here.

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Girl, you've got a wonderful ass

Catch this while it lasts... A Prince fan has started uploading rare and unreleased material to YouTube, including the deliciously funky Wonderful Ass. First recorded in 1983, then revamped for the Dream Factory project, which in turn morphed into the Sign O' The Times album, this is one of the shiniest gems in Prince's vault.

Prince - Wonderful Ass

Prince is famously litigious. He recently issued a cease and desist order to all former members of The Revolution, instructing them not to talk to the press about their time in the band. With that in mind, I expect the YouTube account "The One U Wanna C" will disappear in a matter of days, or even hours.

While it's still there, you should also check out the trailer for an unreleased Prince documentary, which was made around the recording and release of 3121 five years ago.

Prince - 3121 trailer

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Monday, April 4, 2011

"Interesting" news from Euro-land

Lena, a tiny brunette mad woman, is representing Germany at this year's Eurovision Song Contest.

Nothing out of the ordinary, you might think, except she won the competition last year. Apparently the rules allow it, though, and Lena is the third winner to return to defend her title (but the first to do so in 50 years).

Now, I was quite a fan of Lena's song Satellite when I went out to report on Eurovision last year. I'm even quoted on Lena's Wikipedia page as saying it was "the first contemporary pop hit Eurovision has produced in decades". Well, we all get carried away sometimes.

This year's entry is a very different kettle of water (I don't put fish in my kettle. Makes the tea taste funny). Sparse and trippy, it sees Lena's wispy vocals accompanied by little more than a lone plucked double bass.

The hook line, and title, is Taken By A Stranger, suggesting a lyrical telegraph about Europe's sex trafficking trade. Or it would, if the rest of the lyrics weren't "hey, mind if I take this chair?" repeated over and over again, for no apparent reason. Maybe something got lost in translation.

Lena - Taken By A Stranger

Not a particularly obvious choice for Eurovision. I wonder how it'll fare in Dusseldorf next month?

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Friday, April 1, 2011

The Single Life

It is Friday afternoon, and you certainly don't want to hear me wittering on with my "theories" and "jokes" about pop music. Here instead is a huge collection of videos for forthcoming singles and "jukebox classics".

I have arranged them by category. Select the one that suits your mood and press play. Or press play on them all at once for a groundbreaking mini-mixtape mash-up.

The James Brown-produced, devilishly saucy Sweet Charles.

Sweet Charles - Yes It's You

Why, it's Nicola Roberts-collaborators Metronomy with their slyly groovesome new single The Look. How exciting.

Metronomy - The Look

The "official lyric video" (urgh) for that Sky Ferreira track I was banging on about last week.

Sky Ferreira - 99 Tears

Hooray! It's Katy Perry's expensive video for her underwhelming new song, ET. The CGI hooves are particularly unconvincing.

Katy Perry ft Kanye West - ET

This was recorded at the first ever MTV Awards. It'd be fair to say they've upped their game in the intervening 20 years.

En Vogue - My Lovin' (Never Gonna Get It)

My favourite is the feckless Shaun Ryder lookalike in the background.

Deerhunter - Memory Boy

This is Gnarls Barkley supremo Danger Mouse, with Jack White and Sergio Leone's spaghetti western orchestra. From a new project called Rome, which hits the shops later this month. Genuinely terrific.

Danger Mouse and Daniele Luppi - Two Against One starring Jack White

It's a Freemason's mix of Yasmin's new single. It's "massive", or something.

Yasmin - Finish Line (Freemasons Pegasus Club Mix)

And now that I've exhausted a week's worth of potential posts in a single article, I am going to have some beer. I hope you have some beer, too.

Happy weekend,

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