Posts from 16th April 2004

Apr 04


FT + New York London Paris MunichPost a comment • 210 views

POPTIMISM SPECIAL EDITION: Unedited notes on Top Of The Pops, BBC1, 7.30PM, 16th April 2004.

Joe – trad loverman stuff, looks quite saturnine, R&B always a bit hampered by the live thing, cold brit fish like me want to hear the drum sounds more than the silken tones.

Special D – GREAT STUFF! Europop trance, girl in tartan skooldisco skirt, happy hardcore w/ little filterdisco touches. Bubblegum lives. POPTIMIST THUMBS UP!

The Calling special feature, “anticipation high”, NO TA.

Hilary Duff “got to sit with the writers and give them concepts”, not possible to tell if her single’s good.

Jessica Simpson w/ housewife video, HAS IT COME TO THIS. I have been tidying the flat all week and glamorising the domestic hurts me in my heart. Song sounds winsome.

Alex Cartana – never heard of her, song is a weird mix of stutter beats, droney sounds, bad rock, rave stabs, its called “hey papi”, nervous performer, bobs from side to side, god that guitar is horrible, it’s like the weird mixed-down solos they put all over the end of the last Sugababes album. It’s like a pop take on Primal Scream circa Vanishing Point. Crowd do not seem enthused. Hands on the gearstick hyuk hyuk.

Exclusive Beyonce performance = off to the fridge for a can of pear cider. This is the kind of thigh-rubbing nonsense that gets Mark K-Punk writing angrily to Points Of View about SHARK EYED ROBOVIXENS. It’s kind of reaching for something interesting but it can’t decide if it wants to be a love-to-love-you rewrite or snakecharming panethnica or something a bit more bump and grind. GREAT shot of some little kid whose eyes are absolutely POPPING OUT – the little girls understand.


The Rasmus – I totally don’t remember this song being so disco. This is what comes of relying on downloads I think. He’s a rum cove. I’m enjoying this – poptimist approval. “I’ve been waiting in the shadows of our time” – that’s a good line, I think. A remix of this would be awesome.


Eamon – I like this record a lot, it’s like Blink 182 making an R&B song, YES it’s whiny but it’s convincing, albeit in a thank-god-thats-not-me way, anyway soul has always been Emo, it’s just David Ruffin wasn’t allowed to swear. Nor is Eamon so his special performance sounds a bit weedy.

The chart countdown now actually plays bits of the songs, good. Judging by snippets I like 5 of the Top 10 and dislike 2. McFly I’m neutral about, maybe a bit hostile, individual lines and hooks are good, but it’s basically power pop isn’t it? Fuck the Monkees, they don’t mean shit now, etc etc, this performance isn’t selling it either. The middle eight reminds me of Blur when they went American, ugh.

And that’s your lot!


TMFDPost a comment • 369 views

Harsh! Football’s real actual fashion police take a hardline stand. I’m not sure what advantage the one-piece kit could have given Cameroon anyway – it would make shirt-tugging harder, I suppose.

Mars has also just launched

Pumpkin PublogPost a comment • 466 views

Mars has also just launched its Mars Delight brand extension, which I tried out this afternoon. Two skimpy finger-biscuits in a long wrapper, it’s clearly a light summery kind of chocolate snack, over in four bites, and just as well since even four was a bit cloying. The bar has a chocolate and caramel base and then a ‘rippled wafer’ inside it which tastes like those hollow biscuits that you find shoved in ice cream at Harvesters. Verdict: a resounding Pffft. As soon as the weather improves beyond a certain point the feeble British male constitution simply cannot deal with chocolate.

I am still not sold by the name. Bisc &

Pumpkin Publog1 comment • 457 views

I am still not sold by the name. Bisc & seems like a range made in marketing hell without any real sense of where it sits in the real world. It is a biscuit, the kind of thing which would be nice with a cup of coffee. AND it is a choclate bar. You know, for those times when you fancy a Mars bar with your coffee but find they just do not compliment each other.

But then I got a free Bisc & Mars and, well, it was blimmin gorgeous. It reminded me of Sunday afternoon teatimes round my Gran’s, which to get all Proustian, was where the United’s and Breakaway’s would be given to the young ‘uns. The Bisc& seems to balance the shortcake biscuit well with getting over the flavour of its particular &. In this case the cloying sickliness of the Mars is still there, but thankfully the actual sickliness caused by the Mars was thankfully missing.

I still think they are terribly packaged, and badly named. But, with a cup of tea, hmmm.

More French toss in the cinema

Do You SeePost a comment • 454 views

More French toss in the cinema, I don’t know why I still see go and see French films. Les Diables is the latest piece of shocking French cinema trying to titilate and teach us big things. Except the portrayal of an autistic girl is all wrong, wavering from tantrum to idiocy (and you don’t fool me with your backward spooling works of idiot savantary). Except incest is not incest when we are told that the lead characters are not actually brother and sister. Except the whole thing is thoroughly implausible. The kids do a nice act of being devilish but in the end the film has so many tonal shifts (is it fantasy, is it reality, is it interesting – no) that you do not care when a policeman SHOOTS A CHILD FOR RUNNING AWAY!

Simon Reynolds’ Curious Transformation

FT + New York London Paris MunichPost a comment • 335 views

Simon Reynolds’ Curious Transformation: I’d love to confirm that my pop life is this full of energetic glee but it’s just not so. Actually my Poptimism hides a dirty secret, namely that I never really listen to the radio (aside the occasional hunt for a pirate while I’m doing the washing up) and that I don’t even have MTV. I’ve always loved pop music but its steady takeover of my eartime dates pretty much from Summer 2000 and my first taste of high-speed net access. The RealJukebox/Windows Media Player shuffle-playlist has been my listening medium of choice ever since, so of course it’s very easy indeed for me to go hours without hearing a track I don’t like.

My other dirty secret is that to be honest I’ve not felt 2004’s pop charts as much as other people seem to. When the British charts are good it’s because of three things: the best American and European pop and dance music getting promoted; homegrown bubblegum (which always sells) being on a roll; the exciting UK scene of the day actually crossing over commercially. ’00/’01/’02 had all three boxes ticked – US hip-hop and R’n’B all over the charts; the tail-end of the Spice Girls pop boom; UK garage selling like mad and a knock-on confidence boost for black British music generally. Now, though, things are a little different – garage got a lot less chart-friendly, the pop biz seems to be floundering a bit after the reality TV frenzy, and while hip-hop is still selling the crunkier stuff just isn’t getting a push here. Fingers crossed that Usher’s hit will change that a bit, but most of my favourite 2004 moments still came out last year.

Okay, On The Beach is a nice elegaic title for it, but why?

The Brown WedgePost a comment • 271 views

Okay, On The Beach is a nice elegaic title for it, but why? There is barely any beach action at all. The point of Shute’s novel is that there is no action full stop, just three hundred pages of post nuclear war fatalism. Emotional speculative fiction which i found interesting if not convincing. The almost unanimity in these Australian’s acceptance of their death six months away seems to run contrary to the human spirit. Tempted to put this down to being Australian (and there is possibly a thesis in that) it did not stop me being interested by the book. Like science fiction where the science is outdated, it is enjoyable as a period piece, though not because we are not tettering cold war like on the abyss which gave the novel its original strength.

I found the coy fatalism in the book more frightening than death itself: amusing at first, then disturbing, then psychologically unpleasant. Shute tells his tale of self deluding very stiff upper lips without much of a consideration of other reactions to impending death (and good on him). A book which could not be written now, the characterisation would be laughed out of town. Nevertheless it is powerful probably because of its flaws.

Pogo sticks were always rubbish though.

Under self command of Must Watch More Television,

Do You SeePost a comment • 269 views

Under self command of Must Watch More Television, I settled down to Murder City last night. I like crime fiction, though less taken by police proceedurals, especially the cosy two hour ITV jolly old game variety. Well Murder City certainly isn’t that. Nor is it anywhere near as gritty as its title might suggest. Instead it is an grimly comic mismatched buddy cop drama with big doses of CSI thrown into the mix.

Amanda Donahoe plays DI Alembic (a name so close to Lambic that as far as I am concerned she might as well be called DI Beer), possibly a poor womans DI Jane Tennison. But instead of the Prime Suspect hand wringing of being a woman in a mans world she instead has to put up with Kris Marshall’s DS Stone as sometime Holmesian genius, some time autistic gimp. This is not a buddy pairing we were calling out for, from the homoeroticism of Starsky & Hutch we can add a mother/son relationship. Marshall’s schtick here is to make Grissom like forensic leaps, but couched in the arrogance of a bad tie wearing twenty something. It makes for a good pairing, Donohoe playing up the comedy, while Marshall tries to play his down.

Last nights tale included for London colour a drive by shooting between Turks and Kurds, but was actually a much cosier affair of domestic murder. Theirry is a random victim of the drive by, however it turns out that he had already been killed by a blow to the face, a heart attack and poison before he got shot. This is a classic CSI set-up and Murder City plays that riff about as far as it dares (it luckily decides to leave the drive-by as a coincidence). Cliches abound, but this is cop drama: it thrives on it (but subverts it, the prominence of casting rul does not work here). That said it does feel nicely home grown, it takes place in a real London untainted by the bumblers of Sun Hill. Most impressive was the sequence where, in reconstructing the murder, Marshall makes a scale model of the street Blue Peter style. Utterly pointless, but an interesting shift from the ubiquity of computers in this kind of drama. Despite its generic title and seemingly second hand characters, Murder City already has enough of its own rythmn to run for more preposterous mysteries to come.

(And IMDB search throws up the interesting fact that it was both called Kill City and Murder Squad in production. So we hope to see a CSI Miami style spin-off called Kill Squad in the future.)

ADAM FAITH – “What Do You Want”

Popular17 comments • 5,505 views

#93, 4th December 1959

I’ll state the obvious: British pop is rarely if ever cut from whole cloth. The template at a given time is generally American; the attitude and voice tailored to local sensibilities. The question of accent is central to UK pop’s hybrid identity – how British can a singer sound and still convince? (By “convince” I mean “sell”). The various answers are the raw data for an index of British pop self-confidence, or self-sufficiency. Or to be more specific: the first few years of the sixties sees British pop throw forth a gaggle of stars whose hit records can be heard as experiments in fitting local accents to the international pop sound. Eventually the formula fizzes up, overflows its island test tube and the Capital S Sixties can get going. For now though, here’s Adam Faith, with music arranged by John Barry.

Faith had been working as a TV sound-effect man; Barry was a year away from his first film soundtrack, on the up as a bandleader and arranger. The two took Johnny Worth’s pert little song and turned in one minute and forty seconds of smart, cutting-edge pop: highly produced, entirely affected and very, very British. Barry’s contribution was the pizzicato strings, which jerk the song towards a whole new level of perkiness. Faith brought along an outrageous singing accent, half plum half cockney, summed up in his lip-smacking “bey-beh”. Both these hooks rapidly turned into schticks. In 2004 it sounds terribly awkward and not a little camp: in 1959 it must have seemed marvellously modernist, a tiny window onto the new decade.

Amateur theatre is an effervescent affair

The Brown WedgePost a comment • 251 views

Amateur theatre is an effervescent affair, where teachers, professors and investment bankers gather and express. Here are found mannish giants tottering in maid’s outfits and septa-centarian biblical boat-keepers confessing to divine misrepresentation, a dinner-table’s worth of ambitious but tragic women, or dragged-up equivalents of the same.

Am dram, eh? It may sound like a taste best acquired by the relatives of the cast, but if you can see yourself following a non-league football team week in an week out, then surely its possible to imagine the flashes of production inspiration, or the joy of stumbling upon an unexpectedly powerful performance from a name to note, should fame follow them. James Conlon was my find of the evening, but there were plenty of others.

And where else could you find three shows for the price of one? Still two days left to catch them, if you can.