Tag Archives: music

What happened with the bigger boys

(By Bert, aged 4.0)

My mum was going out on speed dating because it was Valentine’s Day and she left me on my own and I said I would be bored and she said shut up and why didn’t I read my chicken book. I like my chicken book but I have read it a lot and I know how it ends – on the front it is very colourful and the chickens look nice and on the back there are smaller pictures of the chickens and it tells you about the meal deals and it has the phone number.

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Out the window I could see that the bigger boys from down the road were getting dressed up for skiing but it is weeks since there was any snow so I ran outside to warn them.

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The bigger boys laughed at me and they said they just like dressing up in lots of different outfits because then they get lots of girlfriends and they put on their sailor clothes and they looked stupid and I wanted to laugh at them back but I did not because I am scared of Louis.

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Louis made me sit on the front of a car while they drove it around the block and I pretended I was in a film because then it was less scary and I thought Niall would help me because he is the gentlest one from the bigger boys but he was showing off because he just wants Louis to like him and I do not like Louis.

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Some of the other bigger boys were riding a motorbike and they were all very grown up and they were talking about all the tattoos they had got and about all the girls they would like to kiss and about how they did not mind if she was fat or ugly and I wondered if my mum was doing well at the speed dating.

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But it turned out the bigger boys were not driving properly and the police made them go to prison and I had to go too but only to tell them which were the boys that had been bad to me and I thought about all the girls who would be sad if the bigger boys had to stay in prison and I did not tell the police anything and I got to go home and my mum was still not back but I looked at the pictures of the chickens and I went to sleep.

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My albums of 2012: Games & Puzzles special

Can YOU solve Plan B’s logic problem, spot the ball with Frank Ocean or help Usher find his climax? Find out in my Albums of the Year Puzzle Special!

10. Jessie Ware – Devotion

9. Bright Light Bright Light – Make Me Believe In Hope

8. Gossip – A Joyful Noise

Three very thoughtful, quietly euphoric albums to start us off. So let’s have a thoughtful and quietly euphoric teaser:

buffet riddle

You are queueing for the buffet at a music industry awards ceremony with Rod Thomas, Jessie Ware and Beth Ditto. You know that one of them always tells the truth, one of them always lies, and one can either lie or tell the truth as they choose. Rod says “The salmon en croute is nice! Don’t listen to Beth by the way, she always lies.” Jessie says “The profiteroles are lovely. And you can trust Rod, he always tells the truth.” Beth says “I do lie sometimes but I can tell the truth too if I want to! By the way the mushroom vol-au-vents are delicious.”

Which is the only food you can put on your plate with confidence?

7. Usher – Looking 4 Myself

I’m on my own with this one, I think. At least, I haven’t seen anyone else raving about it in end-of-year lists. Too much dance-pop for the R&B crowd? Too R&B for the pop crowd? Too cheesy for everyone else? Actually that last one doesn’t need a question mark. But I like it a lot. The centrepiece is of course Climax, a cleverly named song as Usher never actually reaches one. But can YOU help him get there?

ushers climax

 6. Angel Haze – Reservation

It’s not until you put an album on at work and everyone goes rigid with horror that you notice quite how sweary it is. The words in the puzzle are all taken from Angel’s lyrics. When fitted correctly into the grid, the shaded squares will reveal a special bonus word! What is it?

angel haze cross words

5. Frank Ocean – Channel Orange

franks ballsCan YOU see Frank’s balls in this picture? Mark with a cross where you think they are.

4. Plan B – Ill Manors

It’s a horrible world depicted in the film Ill Manors, with relentlessly awful things happening to everyone in it. The accompanying album is just as revolting and upsetting, but of course it’s all set to brilliant music. Plan B has drafted his plans for the sequel in the form of a logic problem – solve it if you dare!

ill manors

3. Tyson – Die On The Dancefloor

Here was a 2012 surprise – a concept album about morbidity delivered as a series of falsetto Hi-NRG bangers. Bloody great. So here’s a puzzle based on Tyson’s twin obsessions of disco and death.

tyson puzzle

2. Metric – Synthetica

I think Metric’s dark, sugary synth-rock is sounding better than ever, and these songs haunted and inspired me all year. Join the fun by solving the riddle to find a word associated with metric measurements.

metric riddle

1. Cassie – The Unreleased Classics Trilogy

CASSIE MYSTERYWell here’s a puzzle. A singer releases a very good first album and goes on to record stacks of even better material for a second album which six years later shows no sign of ever materialising. No don’t write in, there isn’t an answer to this one. But Cassie’s work since 2006 has now been collated and packaged up as a set of three downloads comprising 66 tracks. That’s right, my album of the year isn’t even a proper album and some of the tracks are years old. But to my tastes, out of this bonanza of material you could get at least two full albums that would wipe the floor with anything else from this year. It’s a collection of cold, sexy, sweet and surprising electro that at its best makes me think of Janet Jackson singing her way through Britney’s Blackout. But don’t take my word for it – it’s free!

If you want solutions to the puzzles, they’re here. And if you want a soundtrack to working them out, my songs of the year are in a playlist in the previous post. Happy New Year x

Favourite tracks of 2012

It’s a Spotify playlist! With a bonus YouTube link for a big favourite that wasn’t on Spotify. These are the tunes that have kept me going all year…

TV Pitches: Sonia

I had the pleasure of seeing Scouse popstrel Sonia Evans perform as part of the Hit Factory Live reunion gig the other day. She was tucked way below the likes of Steps and Jason Donovan on the bill, so what next for the chirpy songstress if this doesn’t relaunch her career? Here are some TV show ideas…

YOU’LL NEVER STOP ME LOVING YOU

youll never stop me loving you

Experimental science show in which Sonia is kept alive until the end of time to demonstrate the persistence of emotion. Long after her fella’s death she’s still telling herself that his refusal to answer her calls is no obstacle. After the earth is devastated by bio-nuclear war she still wanders to the site of his home in the hope of catching a glimpse or two. And following the eventual obliteration of our planet, billions of years into the future, she lingers – now evolved into gaseous form – between the stars. Finally the collapse of the universe into a singularity renders her video diaries useless. But we are left with a sense that Sonia’s love endures. Narrated by India Fisher.

LISTEN TO YOUR HEART

TV Jessen 1

Sonia teams up with TV’s Doctor Christian to learn the secrets of auscultation. Armed with only a stethoscope and a well-meaning grin she must correctly diagnose which of five celebrity volunteers has a heart murmur. If the pilot is successful a live roadshow series in shopping centres around the UK will follow.

COUNTING EVERY MINUTE

counting every minute

Endurance gameshow in which Sonia must count out loud to 1,440 in exactly twenty four hours, speaking once per minute and making no other sounds or movements. Throughout the day distractions come in the form of other popstars with time-themed hits. Five Star attempt to coax Sonia into not waiting another minute. So Solid Crew make an appearance to trick her into thinking she’s only got a few seconds to go. Finally the ghost of Whitney Houston will try to make Sonia focus on  a single moment of time only. Hosted enthusiastically by Alison Hammond.

ONLY FOOLS (NEVER FALL IN LOVE)

only fools never fall in love

Sonia must keep her wits about her in this new dating quiz show! She’s given the chance to get together with the man of her dreams, but if she fails a general knowledge test she must sign a legal document agreeing never to see him again. Piers Morgan presides.

BETTER THE DEVIL YOU KNOW

better the devil you know

Documentary series in which Sonia explores comparative religion to discover which faith’s afterlife punishes wrongdoers most severely. In the first episode she visits Sister Wendy Beckett to discuss eternal torment in Catholicism; later there’s an awkward moment when Donny and Marie Osmond tell her she can look forward to being cast into the Mormon “outer darkness”. Sonia’s smile slips for a second. But only a second.

“It sounds wrong!” – The wit and wisdom of S Club 7 part two: The 1999 Specials

Between Miami 7 and L.A. 7, S Club filmed two double-length specials detailing their adventures on the road trip across America. And so our episode guide continues… [part one here]

BACK TO THE FIFTIES

Really?: It’s the second time S Club have time travelled, this time thanks to a magic mileometer. That’s all very well, but they don’t seem to have any trouble spending their modern day money in the bowling alley.

Paul’s dinners: His subconscious is manifesting as road signs now. Fortunately after this unhappy hallucination he gets to tuck into a huge pile of hot dogs later on.

signs

Topical!: The gang are very keen to point out the unreconstructed sexism of the era. But otherwise it’s an incredible, idealised 1959 that sees Bradley able to chat up a white girl without anyone bringing race into it. Speaking of which…

Exploring other cultures with Jo: Oh dear god she’s blacked up AGAIN.

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Careful what you wish for: Hannah: “We’re looking for a wormhole in the time-space-whatsisname!” The countdown to Primeval continues.

Slashfic trigger:

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BOYFRIENDS AND BIRTHDAYS

Really?:  At this point in their long drive the gang’d be somewhere in New Mexico or Arizona. So it’s not clear where Rachel finds the beach with the crashing waves.

Careful what you wish for: When Rachel’s on the point of leaving the band: “I suppose we’re the S Club 6 now.” “It doesn’t sound right.” “It sounds wrong!” A few years later, thanks to Paul, this focus group would take place for real.

Dentalwatch: 

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Dada never died: Jon: “Statistically fish ARE much more reliable than boyfriends.”

Paul’s dinners: 

Slashfic trigger: Rachel tries to impress new crush Ethan with an invitation to tea and biscuits, but when Bradley points out they don’t have any, she offers him her sticky buns instead.

To be continued…

PURITY, PASSION or PAIN? The X Factor final decoded

PURITY PASSION and PAIN

There’s no way to get round it; every X Factor final represents a significant choice in the symbolic life of the nation. Who can forget 2010’s battle between coolness, cockiness and “credibility” (the Fergo/1D/Cardle showdown) or when Shayne Ward led cheekiness to victory over cleanliness AND cheesiness in 2005? Here in 2012, times are more austere and the UK’s choice is a solemn one between almost religious virtues: PURITY, PASSION or PAIN…

(NB Not to be confused with Trey Songz’ very good 2010 album Passion, Pain & Pleasure. If only.)

PURITY

PURITY

Cherubic reflex-giggler Jahmene is a role model for all those cautious kids you see hanging around drinking milkshakes outside Morrisons these days. Well I don’t see anything like that in the slightly stabby neighbourhood I live in, but I hear it goes on elsewhere. What with calling for a Gospel Week, admitting he’s never been kissed and saying he won’t sing any songs with swear words in them, he’s set a new gold standard for non-threatening behaviour in a reality show. Whether such a gentle soul will get very far in the music industry remains to be seen, but you know, there was, er, Dana.

Jahmene’s favourite virtue is his chastity, and I say favourite because it’s the one he aggressively advertises via the constant public display of a purity ring. I have begun to suspect that the power of his alarming falsetto is linked in some way to this holy ring, like a sort of anti-Sauron. Bust the ring and the spell is broken. But hasn’t that always been the way.

PASSION

See no Maloney, Hear no Maloney, Speak no Maloney

See no Maloney, Hear no Maloney, Speak no Maloney [screencap by @baradar85]

No-one has brought raw emotion more firmly back into British public life this year than Christopher Maloney, as he stands on the stage each week violently shaking, sobbing or generally collapsing (Popjustice has a nice gallery). He only seems to find equilibrium when he’s singing. Famously, the great love of his life is his nan, who’s been passionately deployed as a bargaining card right from the start. Originally viewers were urged to vote amid grave concerns for her health, but now she’s more prosaically invoked with Chris saying he hopes to buy her a new kitchen.

The best thing about Christopher’s presence on X Factor is how completely it undermines his mentor, pompous control-monkey Gary Barlow. Gary’s preferred quality in a protégé is laddishness, which is why he picks acts like Kye Sones or Frankie Cocozza in some sort of attempt to vicariously relive his youth – or at the very least snare a “Robbie-I-can-control-this-time”. And as all the acts Gary chose for this year’s live shows were eliminated in the first few weeks, he’s been left politely endorsing someone he rejected while saving his most lavish fawning for rival James Arthur. So allow any smugness on Barlow’s part if Christopher wins.

PAIN

PAIN

The public’s final symbolic option is pain. Week after week James Arthur has taken one cheerful song after another, slowed it down a bit, unsheathed the Acoustic Guitar of Authenticity, and proceeded to sing with the sort of anguish that makes me wonder if he’s suffering from hard stool syndrome.

Oh he seems like a nice fella but you won’t get any sympathy round here for thinking that great pop songs need smothering with torpid angst to make them somehow worthwhile. Last year’s winners represented FUN after all. But the country gets the X Factor finalists it deserves and it’s been a fucking miserable year. So what’s it to be? It’s time to face the music.

Available from Greggs. I know.

Available from Greggs. I know.

Adverts explained: John Lewis – Never Knowingly Undersold

HI I’M A PLUCKY OUTGOING YOUNG WOMAN FROM 1925 LOOKING FOR A POTENTIAL RELATIONSHIP OR A BIT OF BARNEYMUGGING WITH A KEEN 2012 DADDY

Gosh I bet society’s changed a lot since your day, I’m not sure we could ever make it work!

NOT REALLY, MANY CORE VALUES AND EXPERIENCES ARE THE SAME, ESPECIALLY THOSE ESPOUSED BY THE JOHN LEWIS BRAND

Why are you shouting by the way?

I’M USING A TELEGRAPH MACHINE STOP

Stop what?

DON’T START THAT

Culture has changed so much since your day! We won’t have any common reference points!

I THINK YOU’LL FIND THAT IF YOU’RE MIDDLE CLASS AND CAN AFFORD NICE THINGS FROM JOHN LEWIS, NOTHING CHANGES ALL THAT MUCH

Fair.

WHAT’S THAT MUSIC YOU’VE GOT ON IN 2012?

It’s Paloma Faith covering INXS. It encapsulates the cuteness of how our time-crossed lovers’ feelings are different but the same.

WOULDN’T AN ILL-ADVISED DUBSTEP VERSION OF THE CHARLESTON BE A BETTER FIT FOR OUR TIMEZONES?

It wouldn’t wash with the Mumsnet crowd. But you’ve got Doop to look forward to in 70 years!

SO HOW SHALL WE WORK THIS?

Like Gary and Phoebe in Goodnight Sweetheart maybe? Unless Gary ever checked on Phoebe’s gravestone in the present day. I don’t think he did. Oh! Or like Gideon and Edith in The Invisibles!

I THINK GIDEON DID IT WITH HER WHEN SHE WAS AN OLD LADY IN THE 1990s TOO

I’m not sure about that babes. Hang on I’ll check if there was something in Torchwood.

TORCHWOOD?

Oh no you’re dumping me aren’t you.

DON’T BE SILLY DARLING. JOHN LEWIS! WE’VE GOT THE CHRISTMAS CAMPAIGN TO THINK OF…