Tag Archives: music

Is Into The Dalek a shot-for-shot remake of Placebo’s Special K video?

Many of us noticed there was an obvious inspiration for this week’s Doctor Who, in which a miniaturised vessel made a fantastic voyage on an emergency medical mission – yes, Placebo’s 2001 video for their song Special K of course. Let’s take a look at the similarities…

We establish the base where all the exciting thrills & spills will take place

Our elegant, ambiguous hero strides through gleaming corridors on the way to his mission

Going down!

Mandatory dramatic plummeting…

…and someone’s always got to end up in the gloop.

How did THIS get in here?! And now I can’t seem to delete it!! Bloody WordPress!!!

where

Anyway, I bet Vod likes a bit of Placebo.

brain

The brain’s a bit pinky

eye

Hush hush, eye to eye

danny pink

Oops!

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5 things I learned from Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS

1. JOURNEY TO THE CENTRE OF DISCO

journey

You might think the title and themes of this episode are based on Jules Verne’s Journey to the Centre of the Earth. But think on – there wasn’t a dinosaur or giant mushroom in sight. Donna Summer’s Journey to the Center of Your Heart is a much more relevant text. “Baby, wanna travel ‘cross the borders of your mind!” sang the first lady of disco to a thumping Moroder & Bellotte beat. In an episode featuring another song-based climax it was a shame the salvage vessel wasn’t blasting out Donna instead of whatever horrible old racket that was.

2. JOURNEY TO THE CENTRE OF UK GARAGE

asher d

And I can hardly believe they went to the trouble of getting an original member of So Solid Crew on board the TARDIS (Ashley Walters, looking as fit as a butcher’s dog, still), setting a big countdown clock running, and AT NO POINT have anyone say there were twenty-one seconds to go. Never mind the pronunciation of obscure planets, this is the sort of thing they should be picking up in production meetings. “Did you see me in the console room? Oh, no! Operate the blue switches? Oh, no!”

3. JOURNEY TO THE CENTRE OF STAR TREK: VOYAGER

Press here for immediate relief

It was a bold move to take a plot device as roundly and universally mocked as a reset button is, make it into an actual physical button and then have it as the hard-won climax to the episode. Still, this sort of thing isn’t unheard of in TARDIS-based shenanigans. Who can forget 1996’s Temporal Orbit? It was a leading brand of Time Lord chewing gum with magical time-reversing properties.

4. JOURNEY TO THE CENTRE OF w6

swimming pool

I used to work in Hammersmith in the 90s, in a building called Thames Tower which had previously been the home of British Oxygen and which housed the original TARDIS swimming pool, seen in The Invasion of Time, in its basement. Reader, I used to swim in that pool and I’m very proud. This modern one looks rubbish – what are the changing arrangements? Seems like you have to drop your towel in the vestibule, and there’s no Cup-a-Soup machine either. You can say what you like about the 1978 TARDIS chase, at least the swimming pool had roundels.

5. JOURNEY TO THE CENTRE OF CARMINE SEEPAGE

straws and stars

Roundels aren’t the only thing missing in the new-fangled TARDIS. We were promised a nostalgic tour through the programme’s history as Clara penetrated deep into the heart of the Ship. But where was Nyssa’s curly straw? Or Adric’s star chart? No sign of Tegan’s lipstick on the walls as that bloody time-cot was dug out of storage either. On a serious note though, never give a teenage boy black sheets. What were they thinking?

Secret protest: How the OTHER nine songs in the Top Ten are subversive critiques of Margaret Thatcher

Britain is in turmoil! Following Thatcher’s death, a campaign to get Ding-Dong! The Witch Is Dead from The Wizard of Oz into the charts has been successful, but the BBC say they won’t play it in full on the Chart Show. So on the one hand you might reasonably have concerns about censorship, free speech and your right of dissent, but on the other you’ve got, well, Munchkin fury.

Avon calling

Now, Radio 1 censors songs all the time, generally for swearing or explicit sexual references. The radio edit of Azealia Banks’ 212 sounded like she’d borrowed Norman Collier’s microphone. But to ban a song that you might otherwise hear any Sunday afternoon on Radio 2, because of the motives of the people buying it, is some complicated new level of doublethink.

So if YOU were looking forward to listening to the Top Ten today and enjoying a silent gloat while Dorothy and the Munchkins established that the person in question was not only merely, but really most sincerely dead, what are your options now the BBC have spoiled your fun? What subversive messages are hidden in the rest of the songs in the Top Ten?

“I don’t know about you but I’m feeling 22!” sings Taylor Swift in 22. In a song recorded in 2012 that can only mean one thing – Taylor is positioning herself as the embodiment of the post-Thatcher political scene following the Iron Lady’s resignation in 1990. “We’re happy, free, confused and lonely at the same time… it’s miserable and magical!” Well it’s certainly been a mixed bag.

Thatch

In When I Was Your Man, Bruno Mars blames himself for Thatcher’s fall from grace. “My pride, my ego, my needs and my selfish ways caused a good strong woman like you to walk out my life.” But there’s a double-edged criticism implicit in his dirge. It was Thatcher’s own ideology that encouraged Bruno to selfishly individuate! And now they’re both paying the price.

The Saturdays critique the right-to-buy legislation introduced in Thatcher’s first term in What About Us? – “I’ve been watching and waiting, why don’t you give it or take it?” And Pitbull continues the socio-economic analysis in Feel This Moment – “Ask for money and get advice. Ask for advice, get money twice.” He goes on to tell us how he’s made billions in the free market before delivering the killer blow: “I’m far from cheap, I break down companies with all my peeps” – a clear dig at the Big Idea of denationalisation.

Justin Timberlake addresses the notion of individualism as he sings to his own reflection in Mirrors. “My mirror staring back at me, I couldn’t get any bigger with anyone else beside of me,” he croons in a savage satire of Thatcher’s belief that there’s no such thing as society. And what could be a more pointed attack on capitalist federalism than Nelly‘s Hey Porsche? “I don’t need nobody’s permission” he laughs, in a song that deliberately confuses material pleasure with personal objectification to devastating effect.

trouble at t'pit

Pompeii sees Bastille take the Roman city as a metaphor for the ruined industrial communities of the North. The dark clouds that roll in over the hills in the song are the coal dust of the abandoned pits. “Many days fell away with nothing to show… We were caught up and lost in all of our vices.” We’re warned of the cyclical nature of history too, that Thatcherism hasn’t died with the lady herself – “If you close your eyes, does it almost feel like you’ve been here before? How am I gonna be an optimist about this?” Sad. Pink takes a similar view of a nation’s devastated manufacturing base in Just Give Me A Reason but with a more hopeful tone – “Tear ducts and rust, I’ll fix it for us. We’re collecting dust but our love’s enough.”

And so to the song at Number One (according to the midweeks published on 10th April of course, as are all the songs I’ve mentioned – your actual chart experience may vary). Duke Dumont‘s Need U (100%) featuring A*M*E might seem like just another feelgood dance track. But it’s all there in the video. A man visits hospital with a tape recorder – of exactly the sort you could have bought in 1979 when Thatcher came to power – lodged in his stomach. We see him leave without receiving any treatment and learn that the video takes place in America. The implications are obvious – in a country with no NHS, medical help is the privilege of the few. Our hero tries to go about his life regardless, but constant misery ensues as his condition causes everyone around him to suffer potentially fatal choreomania. Eventually, exhausted, we see him undergoing an operation – but at what cost?! If Thatcher’s policies have led inexorably to the current dismantling of a free health service then are we all doomed to dance until we die? Enjoy tonight’s Chart Show!

“My automatic melancholy” – the all-too-short pop career of Lara Croft

Rhona Mitra as Lara Croft

At the height of the Tomb Raider games’ success, and before a film had been made, a succession of actresses, models and promo girls — including a young Katie Price — queued up to be the real life face of Lara Croft. And somehow one of them, Rhona Mitra, ended up making an in-character pop CD with Dave Stewart.

come alive

Come Alive came out on EMI in 1998, between Tomb Raider II (the one with the Venice and sunken ship levels) and Tomb Raider III (the one where Lara keeps getting run over by a tube train). It only went on general release in France, and there’s so little about it on the web you’d think someone had tried to quietly erase it from pop history.

Most of the songs have a post-Madchester, indie dance vibe with flashes of guitar, landing on a sound somewhere between Sneaker Pimps and Chumbawamba. There’s even the occasional ragga toast. So far so 90s. But what about the subject matter?

Brilliantly, Lara sings about her own fictionality, her longings for a physical life and her confusing symbiotic relationship with you the gamer. In this way it very much picks up the metafictional baton from the ending of Tomb Raider II, in which Lara, about to undress for the shower, magnificently breaks the fourth wall by turning to face you and shooting you dead, saying “Don’t you think you’ve seen enough?”

Lead single Getting Naked follows the same template, teasing nudity while admonishing the listener “I know you want to be my lover boy, but I’ve got a lot of things going on.” And the balance between titillation and domination continues in songs like Beautiful Day where every seductive “Tell me all your fantasies and I’ll tell you mine,” is set off by a stern “I’ll do what I want to.”

The prospect of physical love rears its head in Really Real in which a somewhat listless Lara breathes “I’m real! Really real! Just like you!” While in the next song, Feel Myself, she does what any of us would after making the transition from digitised form and proceeds to “Feel myself for the first time,” complete with some little panting noises. Charmingly, she describes her self exploration in terms any gamer will understand, giggling “Moved on to level 2!”

The album’s themes peak on title track Come Alive, in which Lara muses on her life as a pixellated puppet. “I see myself up on a wall,” it opens over some lovely downbeat electro. She goes on to consider her “fated path,” reflecting “all the walls that I was climbing, all the time that I spent falling… and all was fine when I was drowning.”

The whole thing’s a triumph. A very odd triumph, to be sure, but then those are my favourite sorts. It’s a rare album that lets you hear an iconic video game character sing come-hither lyrics about “fish and chips in Streatham” and “a pint of lager & lime” and somehow carry it off, but this is the one. In case you hadn’t noticed, I spend every other post on this blog deliberately muddling fictional things and real ones (with hilarious consequences etc etc), so once in a while it’s nice to find a piece of pop culture that’s managed it all on its own. And is real — really real.

Kanye West and the Diamonds of Doom

Review of Kanye West at the Hammersmith Apollo, 23rd February 2013

Pic by baradar85

Poor old Kanye. An acclaimed music career that shows no sign of slowing down, a blossoming relationship with a little babby on the way, and so very much money that he can afford to slag off corporate sponsorship now – and yet he’s still so alone and so cold. At least, that’s what we must assume when we see him, a solitary figure in white pacing a vast, bare stage like an aggrieved polar bear while projections of icebergs and blizzards and cold seas play behind him.

It’s beautiful, minimal staging. He was surrounded by writhing, body-painted women the last time I saw him, but today there’s no-one to get in his way as he lopes around his empty square in what could be either a strait-jacket or a mummy’s wrap. Sometimes he covers his face completely, singing from behind a bird mask or, most alarmingly, a sewn-up ski mask completely encrusted in diamonds – the close-ups on the giant screens make him a disturbing, abstract monster. Meanwhile on the backing track Shirley Bassey’s diamond fetish gives way to Rihanna’s and some sort of circle is closed.

Kanye’s own favourite numbers seem to be his robo-despair epics, and he milks Say You Will and Runaway for all they’re worth and more. But the dreamlike atmosphere persists even as he makes his way through the big hits, and the design choices are thrilling throughout. When the all-white-everything section has gone as far as it can go – with an outbreak of snowfall over the stalls while Kanye mopes in an icy forest – the Apollo erupts in sudden, dazzling colour for Flashing Lights and All Of The Lights. It’s a well-timed middle section that offers some relief before the icebergs return to finish him off and Kanye trudges away towards them. Poor old thing.

Martine McCutcheon’s Perfect Cheese Moment

Martine McCutcheon Cheese Moments

The other week in ITV’s Midsomer Murders, poor Martine McCutcheon was killed to death by massive cheeses. How cruelly ironic that Martine, who’s spent so many years tirelessly promoting Activia yoghurt on British screens, should meet such a vicious dairy-related death. Here’s that perfect moment in full, soundtracked at last by her biggest hit.

Celebrity Families: The Carters

International superstar Beyoncé has caused quite a stir by adopting her husband Shawn’s name for her forthcoming “The Mrs Carter Show” tour. We asked her about the reasoning behind it.

carters

“It’s a powerful name. It’s a name of power,” Beyoncé tells me as we sit over cocktails and a plate of scotch eggs in a pop-up artisan cafe on the deck of a Dover-Calais P&O ferry that’s moored in uptown Beverly Hills. “For a good few years while Jay [Shawn’s “rap name” is Jay-Z] was growing up, his mum [TV’s Lynda Carter] was Wonder Woman every week on tv and his dad [Jimmy] was president of the USA. And that’s exactly the sort of drive and ambition my solo career encapsulates.”

It must have been quite a childhood, I say. “Hell yes!” spurts Beyoncé, waving at the waiter for prawns. “He used to get teased something awful at school. ‘Show us your magic bracelets!’ ‘Negotiate a peace with Cuba!’ All that sort of thing.” She sighs wistfully.

Just then we’re joined by Beyoncé’s aunt Helena [Bonham Carter, best known for her role as Don Johnson’s love interest in Miami Vice] – they briefly brush each others’ hair in greeting before settling down to tell me more. “When I had my kids they were always over at Lynda’s wanting to play with Jay-Z,” confides Helena in an outrageous Cockney accent. “My eldest Dwayne [Carter, best known today as musician Lil Wayne] has quite the rivalry with Jay these days but they were so friendly once. They used to do raps together over Sunday lunch!” Did they have beef, I ask. “No, chicken usually,” says Helena.

Beyoncé’s thoughts turn to the lost members of the Carter clan, as a regretful breeze ripples across her perfect skin. “Jay hardly sees anything of his uncle Chris these days,” she moues. “He went a bit wild with his conspiracy theories about twenty years ago, it was all ‘the truth is out there’ and ‘trust no-one’ and ‘aliens are in the jelly’ and that sort of thing. He and his kids the Backstreet-Carters have been shut off ever since. Poor Nick and poor little Aaron.”

“They wanted it that way,” spits Helena bitterly.

Still, happier times lie ahead, I venture, drawing Beyoncé’s attention back to her forthcoming tour and the reason for our interview. “Yes, and perhaps now you appreciate a little of the wonderful Carter legacy,” she says with a sweet, winning smile. “With all that rich history behind the name I’d be a fool not to adopt it for promotional purposes.” And the loss of the Knowles name? “My father Nick will be devastated. But with the money from the tour he’ll finally be able to do up his house.”