Tag Archives: plan b

The Foxscars 2013

Never mind the Oscars. This year I’m launching my personal alternative to the Academy Awards – the FOXSCARS.

BEST UNSEEN JOURNEY: Doctor Who Magazine‘s The Watcher recently enthused about the great unseen journeys in Who but Bond and M’s desperate drive from Westminster to Scotland in Skyfall takes the biscuit. “It’s not very comfortable, is it?” says M, settling into the Aston Martin. “Are you going to complain the whole way?” counters Bond. And then the most extraordinary elision.

M Judi Dench Skyfall lodge scotland

Google Maps suggests just over 8 hours for a trip from London to Glencoe. That’s a long trip even if you knock off an hour or two for Bond’s reckless speeding, and M’s a septuagenarian who’s just spent hours cooped up in an inquiry. So this grim, relentless flight for their lives must have had at least one comfort break along the way. I picture M rushing into the service station toilets, cashmere coat tails all a-flap, calling out to James who’s in the queue at the shop “Get me a Twirl, Bond! Or if they haven’t got a Twirl, a Topic!”

BEST IRONIC SURNAME-BASED CASTING: Liz White IS The Woman In Black.

BEST GUYLINER: Lenny Kravitz’s gold lids in The Hunger Games. You would, wouldn’t you.

Kravitz as hot as anything

BEST MOUTH: If you make a film expecting your audience to spend almost the entire running time staring at your heroine’s half-lit face as she stumbles through horrors in the dark, it had better be a good one. And Silent House is a beautiful, beautiful film where extraordinary technical challenges behind the scenes [it is contrived to appear as a single 90-minute shot] are matched by Elizabeth Olsen’s brilliant expressive face. I spent ages scouring the disc to get the best screenshot of her mouth opening up in atavistic terror, and realised afterwards I’d landed on the same still as is used on all the promo materials. Well there you go.

Silent House

BEST LEGO: The telekinetic teenagers in Chronicle hone their skills with some truly awesome Lego action.

BEST BREATHING:  Kristen Stewart is already famous for acting out emotion purely through the medium of languid sighs and gasps, so it was a treat that in her first scene in Snow White And The Huntsman she immediately got to blow a candle out.

BEST MONSTER IN AN OTHERWISE TERRIBLE FILM: The spider-thing made out of mannequin parts in Silent Hill: Revelation

spider mannequin

BEST IMAGINARY MUSICAL VERSION: There’s a moment in the excellent My Brother The Devil when Fady Elsayed says to James Floyd “I’d rather have a brother that’s a bomber than a homo!” Every time I’ve seen it I’ve been willing him to say “bummer” instead of “homo”. Because then it would be the perfect opening lyric to the lead song of the musical version that’s in my head.

My Brother the Devil

BEST 3D: I didn’t think I liked 3D, but Life of Pi changed my mind, so well done everybody.

BEST OPTIMISM IN A POSTER PULL-QUOTE: Quartet

Quartet poster

BEST PUNCTUATION: The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2

BEST FINGERS: Not to get all spoilery, but there’s a point in Prometheus where Noomi Rapace has just gone through some of the most intense physical and mental trauma that you can imagine. And how do the ship’s crew wake her up? Five sharp raps to the face with the back of the fingers. In marigolds. Makes me laugh every time.

Prometheus fingers

BEST GRATUITOUS NUDITY: Nick Sagar suddenly being forced to strip naked in the street in Ill Manors had absolutely no plot justification or character relevance at all. Plan B, we salute you.

Nick Sagar, as fit as a butcher's dog

BEST INTER-SPECIES NECROPHILIAC FRENCH KISS: Always a hotly-contested category, but this year Cabin in the Woods just edged it.

kissing in the cabin in the woods

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…

The 2012 Mercury Prize nominees explained through the medium of Fruit & Veg

1. Pickled peaches You WANT to like them. They look really interesting. But they’ve coolly distanced themselves from you with a big thick glass jar. Then you finally try them, and the individual elements are things you like – some old-fashioned, some a bit out of leftfield – but it’s a bit much all together.

2. Frozen parsnips One person’s ‘earthy’ is very much another person’s ‘indigestible’.

3. Tinned mango A bit of exoticism BUT NOT TOO MUCH THANKS, let’s keep it safely packaged in a reassuring tin.

4.  A formal knot garden of germander, marjoram, thyme, southernwood, lemon balm, hyssop, costmary, acanthus, mallow, chamomile, rosemary, Calendulas, Violas and Santolina Easy to admire but hard to love.

5. Asparagus The conoisseur’s choice. A delicate and lasting flavour to be savoured. NO I’M NOT SAYING JESSIE WARE MAKES YOUR PISS STINK I’M SAYING I LIKE HER.

6. Courgette Oh it’s all very nice but would you miss it if it had been left out? Would you?

7. Potato Well you know where you are with it don’t you.

8. Dried apple I like dried apple. It’s very nutritious isn’t it. But sometimes, perversely, knowing something is good for you makes it a hell of a lot less interesting.

9. Pepperoncini (or ‘kebab shop chilli’ to give it its proper name) Salty! A bit hot! A bit caustic! Essential.

10. Snow pea In the words of Harry Hill – ‘Mangetouts, they’re lovely aren’t they. But I couldn’t eat a whole one.’

11. Anyone know what this is? Cheers.

12. No me neither.

Tied up with string: March

A SONG

In case you can’t tell from the last post, I bloody love Plan B’s Ill Manors. A top ten hit that says out loud that calling any of us ‘chavs’ is a rotten, fucked-up thing to do. While being exciting and confrontational instead of worthy. With Shostakovich breakbeats! Here‘s my favourite article about why it’s so good.

A TV EVENT

The sad demise of EastEnders‘ Heather at least meant an excuse to give her a ludicrous send-off. So her hen night saw Hev & Shirl breaking into a brilliant and  unlikely Mel & Kim dance routine..,

…which led Andi to suggest it just needed a slo-mo sepia treatment to turn it into a proper tribute, which of course I couldn’t resist…

It’s what Heather would have wanted. I don’t think Hazell Dean will ever again be mentioned on primetime tv.

ANIMAL OF THE MONTH

I’ll spare you any of the morbid photos I’ve taken, but I’m now in the last month of working somewhere so blighted that my walk from the station regularly leads me to step over dead rats littering the street. Here’s to the lovely rats. Let them run x

Plan B vs Juliet Bravo

It wouldn't happen in Hartley

As older readers may remember, Juliet Bravo was a tv show about a smalltown police inspector who — in a twist — was a woman! And it had one of the best theme tunes of all time. So how would Plan B’s brilliant ill Manors (buy it here) sound if relocated to early 80s Lancashire? LET’S FIND OUT:

The Bert Awards 2011

Hello and welcome to the inaugural Bert Awards, during which I will be making a fist of this year’s Brit Awards highlights.

Best Grooming

Where else on primetime TV do you get to see a man in his thirties leaning into the face of an uncomfortable-looking 16-year old boy to say “You smell amazing! How old are you? No really, how old are you??” But the pheromonal appeal of Justin Bieber reduced James Corden to just such a state. Amazing.

Best Rioting

A difficult one to judge. And unexpected. It seemed that every other act had been down that shop they advertise near my work [pictured] to kit themselves out before the show.

Plan B put a good effort in, with the prison-yard violence and the setting people on fire and everything, but the award has to go to Take That, whose choreographed kettling was particularly joyful.

Best Slurring

I’m not sure what had gotten into Cheryl Cole before she lurched on to present the Best International Female award. Half a box of Nytol, by the sounds of it. Dull, limp and lifeless.

Best Sulking

Has anyone ever turned up to present an award with as thunderous-faced a glare as Will “I’m making a documentary about Coriolanus you know” Young did? Was it because he’d been paired with Avril Lavigne? Was it all beneath him? Bad show.

Best Duetting

All night we were shouting at the telly: ‘When’s the big duet? Who will it be?’ Because even though these unlikely popstar pairings are the best part of the event, one big collaboration per year is the best you can hope for these days.

And what a disappointment. I love Cee Lo, but hate watered-down versions of overplayed songs. Especially one he’s already done with a ‘surprise guest’ a few days ago (at the Grammys, with Gwyneth Paltrow). And who was it who came on to play Mika to his Beth Ditto? Just Paloma “Plan B’s mum” Faith.

If it had been left up to me, the big finish would have been Corinne Bailey Rae collaborating with Rastamouse. She would have sung with all the sadness of every orphan in the Mouseland orphanage, and he would have made a bad ting good. But this is why I am not, yet, in charge of the Brits.

Favourite albums of 2010

20. Massive Attack – Heligoland

19. Lil Wayne – I Am Not A Human Being

18. Shakira – Sale El Sol

17. Nas & Damian Marley – Distant Relatives

16. Gabriella Cilmi – Ten

15. Yeasayer – Odd Blood

14. Nicki Minaj – Pink Friday

13. The Roots – How I Got Over

12. Diddy – Dirty Money – Last Train To Paris

11. Janelle Monae – The ArchAndroid

10. Big Boi – Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty – WEIRDO WITH BASSLINES

9. The-Dream – Love King – PERV WITH SYNTHS

8. Jazmine Sullivan – Love Me Back – SHE GOT A BIIIIIG VOICE

7. Arcade Fire – The Suburbs – YOU CAN’T GO HOME AGAIN YOU KNOW

6. Corinne Bailey Rae – The Sea – WEARY AND BROKEN AND TERRIFIED BUT LOVE IS BIGGER THAN THE PAIN YOU GET FOR IT AND OH GOD I AM WEEPING AGAIN

5. The National – High Violet – The National have got TWO pairs of brothers in their line up, but despite this they keep refusing to do a “Double Jedward” by covering Ghostbusters. They insist on filling their music with fear, regret, spiders and despair (it’s very beautiful).

4. Plan B – The Defamation Of Strickland Banks – Angry rapper in “amazing soft-hearted songwriter” shock. Also: tight suits, prison fantasies.

3. Kanye West – My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy

We're going to need a bigger pad

Do we really have to call it that? Anyway here is an extract from Kanye’s shopping list:

THE PLINKY PLINK PIANO OF SELF LOATHING.

THE HUMUNGOUS HANDCLAPS OF HUBRIS

THE BLARING HORNS OF PROBABLE IMPORTANCE

THE APHEX TWIN SAMPLE OF WISTFUL REGRET

THE PROG ROCK SAMPLE OF IMPLIED PERSONAL COMPLEXITY

THE MASSED CHOIRS OF ASSUMED SIGNIFICANCE

EGGS

BROCCOLI

PAINTINGS

2. Robyn – Body Talk

Instructions for assembly available separately

CARLSSON. Album. Package measurement: 5-15 tracks ( spares provided ). Start with a ready-made combination or create your own combination from scratch. Drag and drop songs using our online planner, or see our CARLSSON experts in store for helpful advice in assembling your album. Key features: Resilience, Defiance, Inclusivity, Heartbreak, Love, Compassion, Dancing (on your own), Dancing (running tings), Dancing (to the beat), 1 x robot, 1 x time machine. Will complement existing CARLSSON items. Care instructions: Wipe off tears with a soft clean cloth. Keep going.

1. Drake – Thank Me Later

Choose your own Drake

Choose your own adventure in time, memory and identity! Will you find your way to happiness in the here and now or be LOST IN TIME?

TRACK 1

You are Drake! Money just changed everything and your fifteen minutes started an hour ago!  But you’re haunted by the sense that “you never see it coming, you just get to watch it go”.

If you look for the answer in your lover’s eyes, go to Track 11.

If you look for the answer in your own past, go to Track 10.

TRACK 2

“I was only trying to get ahead – but the spotlight made you nervous”.

You don’t get to take everyone with you when your life changes; sometimes it’s your choice, sometimes theirs. It’s rare that it doesn’t hurt, but there’s a fine line between being strong and divorcing yourself from all feeling.

If you put your hand on a hot kettle in an attempt to feel connected to the world again, go to Track 14

If you’d rather have a good time, go to Track 5

TRACK 3

“They say: you promised me you would never change” But identity is fluid. They’ve brought you down just when you’d started to live in the moment, accept the pain of memory and kiss the past goodbye, too. You can’t do much about how others see you, in the end, but you can try and be true to yourself.

If you try to be all things to all people, go to Track 4

If you think you have to leave people behind sometimes, go to Track 2

TRACK 4

“That’s right, I’m doing me” in the crescendo of a victory anthem ought to come across as triumphant. But it’s full of uncertainty, a resigned suspicion that your identity’s a commodity, that being completely “yourself” gets harder and harder the more people you know and more you try to please. “It’s far from over” should sound like a rallying cry, but you make it seem so weary.

If you imagine that things could have been different, go to Track 12

If you think that one day you’ll realise what a great time you were having, go to Track 9

If you want to try disassociating yourself from others’ opinions, go to Track 2

TRACK 5

It’s hard, living in the moment. Once in a while, you get the opportunity for a bit of right-now happiness with someone. But the weight of memory presses hard, you torture yourself, wondering how your past even led you there in the first place, while trying too hard to forget and going on about saving worries for tomorrow just reminds you of the problems. So you live for “the nights you can’t remember with the people you won’t forget”.

If you think you can still make the best of it, go to Track 7

If you think simpler would be better, go to Track 12

TRACK 6

You have been up all night.

If you look like yes, go to Track 8

If you look like no, go to Track 9

TRACK 7

If you got your nails done and hair done and everything did, go to Track 6

If you’re worried people will think you’re too fancy, go to Track 3

TRACK 8

This is the dream, isn’t it. (This is The-Dream, isn’t it.) That moment where time slows down and stops and you can finally focus on something, finally be fully present in the moment with someone. And a song that makes you feel it, like the air in a heat haze warping around you. I THINK YOU REALLY MADE IT.

TRACK 9

“Looking forward to the memories of right now”? But it’s a beautiful night to live your beautiful life. Why can’t you be there, living it? Losing yourself in thoughts of potential futures is bad enough, but losing yourself in thoughts of a potential future in which you’re stuck looking back at the present past? You are so lost.

TRACK 10

“I keep thinking, how young can you die from old age?” Memories weigh heavy, when you’ve already had a too-full life. But how has your past changed you?

If you think it’ll all make more sense when you look back at it in years to come, go to Track 9

If you’re thinking about who you’ve had to leave behind, go to Track 2

If you’re trying to work out who the hell you are, go to Track 4

TRACK 11

“Miss me a little when I’m gone” But how can you know who you are, if all your identity comes from how others see you?

If you think people have got you all wrong, go to Track 3

If you think it’s down to you, go to Track 4

If you think it’s better to try and move on, go to Track 2

TRACK 12

If there’s one thing more dangerous than living in the past or the future, it’s imagining how different things could be right now. You can’t undo the changes you’ve gone through. For better or worse, they’ve made you who you are. But still, you imagine yourself in an alternate present, with the old familiar things around you, as if you’d never moved on. YOU ARE LOST.

TRACK 13

“Every single summer, I’ll be the one that you remember.”  I listened to this album on lazy summer afternoons in the park, on too-hot mornings as I walked to work, and late at night in the middle of our June heatwave when the world seemed to press in through the window… It’s hard to avoid getting mentally bogged down in the past, in all your mistakes and wasted opportunities, when you get to a certain age. It’s hard to imagine the future being much better. It’s a great thing if you can appreciate everything that’s good in the here and now. It’s amazing when music comes along that speaks to you personally and moves you, when the music is as sweet as a cool breeze on a hot summer’s night. Hey how did you get to this paragraph anyway?

TRACK 14

“Thank me later, yeah, I know what I said, but later doesn’t always come, so instead, it’s okay – you could thank me now” And the moment rushes in. When an album sets up a theme of deferment and displacement, right from its title, it’s a good thing to get it all resolved in the final track. I THINK YOU MADE IT. But other endings may be available