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Apr 15

MELANIE C – “I Turn To You”

Popular49 comments • 1,933 views

#870, 19th August 2000

melciturn What does a Mel C record sound like? Not an easy question. Her solo singles ask more, in terms of brand loyalty, than any other Spice – she was respected for her voice, and the assumption is you’ll want to follow it through flashy Britrock (”Goin’ Down”), acoustic soft pop (”Northern Star”), twilit R&B (”Never Be The Same Again”) and now muscular pop-trance. And that’s without bringing Bryan Adams into it. There’s something very appealing about this hopscotch approach, but almost none of the songs are strong enough to sell Melanie C as more than a dabbler.

15
Apr 15

Is Japan’s Bathhouse That Unusual?

The Brown Wedge/Post a comment • 112 views

thermaeromae More comics reviews, this time focused on manga. Contains spoilers in places!

Thermae Romae I (Yen Press)

Surely the greatest time travel/bathhouse design manga ever written, Mari Yamakazi’s charming Thermae Romae has the pace and pleasures of a culture-clash sitcom: each episode, down-on-his-luck bath architect Lucius Modestus is confronted with a bathing-related problem in 2nd century AD Rome, finds himself whisked away to modern Japan, and returns home full of inspiration. Along the way he invents the Roman Empire’s first reptile house, water slide and loyalty marketing scheme.

14
Apr 15

ROBBIE WILLIAMS – “Rock DJ”

Popular68 comments • 3,065 views

#869, 12th August 2000

robbierock Back at “Millennium” I claimed that Robbie Williams’ wild success, his undeniable – and untranslatable – appeal as a pop star, said something wider about turn of the century British culture; that Robbie fitted into a post-Blair, post-Diana era where Britain felt at ease with itself and curious about itself, happy to celebrate the everyday, and to let someone become the country’s biggest star on little but determination and cheek.

Robbie was only the beginning: the early 00s saw a steady demystifying of celebrity matched by an equally steady supply of the newly famous. “Rock DJ” landed at number one near the beginning of this process – during the first series of Big Brother, still very much at this point a ‘psychological experiment’ in national voyeurism, Britain taking an unblinking, intimate look at ten of its own. Life Thru A Lens, if you like. If Robbie Williams was an expert on anything, it was being famous, and he understood every side of such attention. The video for “Rock DJ” cast him as a dancer, desperate to be noticed, stripping off clothes, then skin, muscle and organ.

12
Apr 15

CRAIG DAVID – “7 Days”

Popular56 comments • 2,259 views

#868, 5th August 2000

craig david days When Craig David’s manager heard the chorus of “7 Days” for the first time, he knew at once the 17 year old would be a star. The song made him. It also doomed him. “7 Days” is the most immediate single of the year, and also the easiest to parody. A committed, self-serious lad, David chafed at the attention of comedians, particularly Bo Selecta!’s Leigh Francis, whose consistent, surreal use of the singer was blamed by David for sabotaging his career. But “7 Days” is so ridiculous – and so catchy – that it attracted piss-takers like piranha to steak. That doesn’t make David’s hurt and regret less real, or void his case – the relationship between pop music and the rest of British culture, comedy included, was on the turn. But it doesn’t make “7 Days” less funny.

9
Apr 15

FIVE + QUEEN – “We Will Rock You”

Popular38 comments • 1,774 views

#867, 29th July 2000

five queen rock 2014 saw Queen reach an unfortunate milestone – they’ve now been going for longer without Freddie Mercury than with him. It’s been an odd 23 years. John Deacon bowed out with some dignity in 1997, but Brian May and Roger Taylor remain remorselessly active. Sometimes their stewardship has been a great public success – pioneering the jukebox musical, for instance – and sometimes it’s felt more like the most dogged but pointless of May’s many hobbies. This single, their only No.1 since the initial post-Freddie tribute era, surely falls into the former category. But hold on – the official Queen website has no mention of it. Nor does the band’s quite thorough Wikipedia history. What’s up?

7
Apr 15

RONAN KEATING – “Life Is A Rollercoaster”

Popular59 comments • 2,040 views

#866, 22nd July 2000

ronancoaster Fishing for critical angles in songwriting credits is a mostly futile endeavour. You soon learn the sad truth: the distribution of talent and memorable style is as skewed among writers as among everyone else – including the stars and hopefuls they work for. Consistency – never mind individuality – is a rare gift. More likely the trawl through Discogs and Wikipedia reveals the half-forgotten boyband hit as the peak of some toiler’s career. But every so often a partnership between star and writer works, and sometimes in surprising ways. This is the only number one Gregg Alexander – ex New Radicals – wrote for Ronan, but he was heavily involved with every one of the singer’s early solo LPs. And listening to “Life Is A Rollercoaster” it’s easy to hear why. Alexander solved a real problem for Keating: how to make the Irish boyband style work for upbeat songs.

2
Apr 15

What A Magical Young Lady You Are

The Brown WedgePost a comment • 156 views

More comics reviews originally from goodreads.com

supreme blue rose SUPREME: BLUE ROSE (Image Comics)

The 1990s saw a rash of metafictional superhero comics by British writers – Grant Morrison’s Flex Mentallo and Animal Man, Alan Moore’s Promethea, and Moore’s original run on the Rob Liefeld character Supreme. Supreme: Blue Rose is Warren Ellis’ late contribution to the genre – the constant revisions and reboots of the modern superhero given a typically Ellis-ian science-fiction gloss. Themes from Ellis’ short-lived newuniversal project bubble up here too. For all the familiar – even mildly nostalgic – postmodernist and hard science trimmings, this is in places a very contemporary comic: protagonist Diana Dane is a former journalist turned freelancer, constantly having to ask herself what it means to live your best life in a disrupted, unstable world, even before those terms acquire more sinister meanings.

1
Apr 15

THE CORRS – “Breathless”

Popular57 comments • 2,843 views

#865, 15th July 2000

corrs We’re halfway through 2000’s overstuffed curiosity shop of number ones, and I’ve realised something about this period’s glut of hits. The common idea is that the rapid turnover at the top is the sign of a chart that’s broken, over-responsive to release date and first-week sales manipulation. But actually writing about them has brought home how many different groups and scenelets were being served by the charts – from the Manics to Gabrielle, Britney to Eminem, Madison Avenue to Oxide & Neutrino. There’s something for anyone, but nothing for everyone. This is the music industry at its bloated commercial peak, the greatest expansion of the CD bubble – of course a sales-based chart is going to reflect that. So 2000’s number ones now feel to me not like a garden in need of weeding, but an unnaturally fecund vegetable patch, pumped full of dodgy fertiliser.

30
Mar 15

EMINEM – “The Real Slim Shady”

Popular93 comments • 4,542 views

#864, 8th July 2000

eminem rss Never has the “early, funny stuff” cliche held such weight in pop: we’re at a stage now where the new stars coming through are still heavyweights now, and the sclerotic Marshall Mathers of the mid-10s haunts this swaggering, sparkling kid. But “The Real Slim Shady” is still an Eminem who knows how to tell a joke – though how much he’s joking is open to question – and he’s the most technically audacious and exciting rapper to have hit number one yet. By a considerable distance – take the “Now there’s a million of us…” climax, thirty-seven staccato monosyllables from “just like me” to “not quite me”, a pattern of triple stresses reeled out and back like a man casually doing tricks on a yo-yo. Or the animals – cannibals – canteloupes – antelopes – can’t elope rhyme set, as bravura in its wordplay as anything you’d find on an underground mixtape. Or the entire first verse (”Act like you never seen a white person before…”) and its teetering jenga of internal rhymes. Or the single’s best gag, delivered barely as rap, just as a great one-liner: “Will Smith don’t gotta cuss on his raps to sell records / Well I do / So fuck him and fuck you too”

26
Mar 15

KYLIE MINOGUE – “Spinning Around”

Popular96 comments • 3,437 views

#863, 1st July 2000

kyliespin Most comebacks risk being overshadowed by the past. To find its distinct identity, “Spinning Around” has to battle the future. The second phase of Kylie’s career pivots on one single, and we’re a year out from it, but the gravity of “Can’t Get You Out Of My Head” makes this nimble disco-pop track sound more a cautious herald than a triumphant return.