Tag Archives: rihanna

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.

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Favourite albums of 2011

20. Ghostpoet – Peanut Butter Blues & Melancholy Jam

19. Lupe Fiasco – Lasers

18. Lady Gaga – Born This Way

17. Rihanna – Talk That Talk

16. Theophilus London – Timez Are Weird These Days

15. Drake – Take Care

14. Anna Calvi – Anna Calvi

13. Jamie Woon – Mirrorwriting

12. Lil B – I’m Gay (I’m Happy)

11. Selena Gomez & The Scene – When The Sun Goes Down

10. CocknBullKid – Adulthood

9. araabMUZIK – Electronic Dream

8. Cher Lloyd – Sticks + Stones

7. Riz MC – MICroscope

6. Beyoncé – 4

5. The Sound of Arrows – Voyage

4. Toddla T – Watch Me Dance

3. Britney Spears – Femme Fatale

Britney’s people have told her that every song on her album Femme Fatale is inspired by a different femme fatale from history, myth or fiction. Poor Britney just can’t work it out though! Can YOU match the lyrics from the album to the  foxy ladies in question? Answers below.

2. The Weeknd – House of Balloons

Poor Abel Tesfaye has just got the artwork for his epically miserable comedown album back from the designers, but it looks like they’ve strayed from his original vision! Can YOU spot the five subtle differences hidden in the new cover?

If you are having trouble spotting all five differences here are some hints!

  • I wonder who else was at those debauched parties he sings about?
  • There’s a subtle theme running through the album but we’ve “inflated” it
  • “Well doesn’t that put the cherry on top”
  • Track titles ‘MAY’ not ‘ALWAYS’ be correct!
  • A dog’s face

1. Katy B – On A Mission

Here are Katy’s missions explained track-by-track:

POWER ON ME

Attributes: Slowly unfolding; sweeping musical vista; quite long. Mission: 1986 film THE MISSION. (From the IMDB plot synopsis: “Initially, the Guarani warriors prepare to kill him, but after Gabriel plays an unforgettable solo on his oboe, they allow him to live”. And we’ve all had days like that.)

KATY ON A MISSION

Attributes: Bold, purposeful, brill. Mission: KATY’S MISSION STATEMENT

WHY YOU ALWAYS HERE

Attributes: Elegant; structured; accomplished. Mission: MISSION REVIVAL ARCHITECTURE.

WITCHES BREW

Attributes: Startling; Bleepy; Full of twists and turns that leave you feeling dislocated. Mission: Doctor Who‘s 1965 MISSION TO THE UNKNOWN episode with its imagination-gone-mad monsters and lack of regular cast.

MOVEMENT

Attributes: Propulsive; No nonsense; Designed to make you move. Mission: A SEARCH AND DESTROY MISSION.

GO AWAY

Attributes: Dignified; Luxurious; Satisfying. Mission: The DIPLOMATIC MISSION where the Ferrero Rocher-stuffed Ambassador’s Receptions are held.

DISAPPEAR

Attributes: Solid; A bit old-fashioned; Cheery. Mission: THE GLAD TIDINGS MISSION FROM 60s CORONATION STREET, over which Ena Sharples presided; a handy refuge in case of a gas leak on the Street.

BROKEN RECORD

Attributes: Bright; Bouncy; Pretty. Mission: MISSION BELL (the flower, stupid.)

LIGHTS ON (FEAT. MS. DYNAMITE)

Attributes: Passing the torch from one generation of singer to the next; Shiny; Confident. Mission: THE CONTINUING MISSION of Star Trek: The Next Generation‘s Enterprise-D.

EASY PLEASE ME

Attributes: Fun; In your face; Sassy with the fanfares. Mission: The original series of MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE.

PERFECT STRANGER (WITH MAGNETIC MAN)

Attributes: Romantic; Irresistible; Destined to help Magnetic Man be warmly remembered even though most people shrugged at their album proper. Mission: A RESCUE MISSION.

HARD TO GET

Attributes: Charming; Laidback; Basking in the glow of all that’s come before. MISSION ACCOMPLISHED.

If popstars were… Perverts

Oh it’s a loaded topic, isn’t it. Because we all know already that all popstars are perverts. Rihanna’s the latest to pitch in with new single S&M. But how well do our favourite acts put their fetishes into song? And how far would they really go?

Soft Cell – Sex Dwarf

What perversion is this? Midget is paraded in a long black leash on the high street. Disco dollies are lured into a life of vice. Pornos are filmed. ‘They all love your miniature ways! You know what they say about small boys!’ It’s quite specialised.

What does it sound like? Being aurally raped by a succession of oversized synthesisers while off-their-tits clubbers laugh at you (v good).

How far would they go though? If you believed even one story out of ten that the press ran about Marc Almond in the early 80s, you don’t need me to tell you the answer to that. For everyone else — the song’s pretty mild in comparison.

Depeche Mode  – Master and Servant

What perversion is this? A nice bit of submission. Dave Gahan gets down on his knees like a dog, and regrets that getting shafted in real life isn’t nearly as much fun.

What does it sound like? Like a nursery rhyme. A nursery rhyme with a lot of people banging on pipes and whipping each other while gas explosions go off (excellent).

How far would they go though? From this point on, half of all Depeche Mode’s singles were about chains or the sweetness of suffering or somebody having a wank while you strip off and choke on exhaust fumes. I like to imagine the boys had a special room in their Basildon mansion where they ‘tried out ideas for lyrics’.

Madonna – Hanky Panky

What perversion is this? A few years ago I spent a spring and a summer moonlighting as a karaoke DJ in a King’s Cross pub on Saturday nights. Happy times. My presentation style was best summed up by the time I introduced a punter doing Hanky Panky by saying “…and she’s going to sing us a cheery little number about consensual sexual violence!” (Oh she got her revenge. By coming back and singing the same bloody song, week after week after week.)

What does it sound like? Awful.

How far would she go though? Madonna spends a lot of time and energy convincing us that she’s as highly-sexed and adventurous as possible. So to be honest I think she’s exhausted by it all by the time she gets home. I expect she makes do with a sleepy poking in front of Newsnight once a week like everybody else.

Aqua – Barbie Girl

What perversion is this? It’s fantasy dress-up role-play of course, although it’s more to the point that once Lene is Barbie, René gets to undress her, control her actions completely, and touch her anywhere he likes. Lyrically, this stuff isn’t even buried, it’s completely explicit, which I think makes Barbie Girl the most deliciously perverted song ever to become a massive mainstream hit.

Mattel did sue Aqua over the song, claiming they’d tarnished their doll’s reputation, and Aqua countersued, claiming hilariously that Mattel were injecting meanings into the song that simply weren’t there. After a long running series of legal disputes that eventually reached the US Supreme court, a judge dismissed the whole thing and told everyone “to chill”. Pop gold.

What does it sound like? They call it bubblegum pop, technically. I can’t come up with anything better than that. Barbie Girl‘s true genius is that you only have to hear it once and you’ll never ever forget it.

How far would they go though? Lene and René did date eventually, but only after she’d split up with Brian McFadden, of all people (a man who at the time had temporarily changed the spelling of his name to Bryan, “to make it easier to sign autographs”). Lene’s debut solo album was called Play With Me, and included the tracks Virgin Superstar, Bite You and Pants Up. René also went solo, releasing the tracks Let It All Out (Push It) and The Uhh Uhh Song. From these few facts alone I’m happy to believe that anything’s possible.

Rihanna – S&M

What perversion is this? The problem is that it’s all a bit broad-brush, trying to cover too many bases without ever settling on one of them. According to the video, Ri-Ri is into clingfilm wrap, domination (Perez Hilton’s her sex dwarf), a little light bondage, and ‘food play’ — with strong hints in the closing moments that a bukkake session’s about to take place. Meanwhile in the lyrics, she’s into masochism — chains and whips in particular. Then there’s the alarming line “Sex in the air, I don’t care, I love the smell of it!”, inviting us to picture Rihanna as a small red spaniel leaping to catch some flying ejaculate on her muzzle.

What does it sound like? A very generic I Can’t Believe It’s Not Guetta! production from Stargate is a big disappointment after the lovely What’s My Name?.

How far would she go though? A difficult question. Because on her last album Rated R, it was easy to believe that shell-shocked, defiant Rihanna was capable of anything, including vengeful suicide firebombing, shooting herself in the face for laffs, and dabbling with girls “underneath the candelabra”. This time around she’s playing up her fun, sexy side, from a ridiculous food fight dance routine on X Factor, through to “spilling the milk” with Drake, and finally the well-publicised “banana gobble” in this video. I don’t know who the real Rihanna is. But I’d like to.