Posts from December 2007
I give marks out of 10 to every song – based on whatever criteria you like, here’s your opportunity to say what you’d have given more than 6 to from 1974. It’s a bumper crop of 21 tracks, tick as many as you like.
Here’s a selection of some of the most entertaining/interesting posts on the site this year – thoroughly incomplete, as it doesn’t include much of the frothing ephemera that makes FT so good (in my partisan view). As usual when I look at the FT archives I’m enormously amused, amazed that there’s so much of it, and frustrated that loads of good ideas don’t get followed up, but such is the way of the blog. Huge thanks to all contributors and a Happy New Year to all readers.
I’ve seen Battlestar Galactica: Razor twice now, and I finally feel free to say that which I was scared of after the first viewing. Yes, it is an entertaining two hour film, filling in details which probably did not need to be filled in, but telling a pretty entertaining story at the time. Perhaps the moments humanising Admiral Cain would have been more useful in a lesser show, but even in the episodes she turns up in the show was even handed enough not to mark her out as a complete monster. The film barely softens her, but instead decides to show how one bad decision can turn you into an unwavering tyrant. Not needed, but good work.
The retro Cylons were however an example of fan wank over plot.
so last night i discovered two inter-linked and utterly heartwarming cookery FACTS
two is that in these recipes, for every horse (= small piece of toast) there are TWO RIDERS! bless!!
The following excerpt arrived in my inbox over Christmas and appears to be from the journal of an anonymous Merchant Navy skipper.
23rd December ’07
After 3 days fogbound, we found ourselves under clear skies in open sea. The navigator swiftly fixed our position and discovered we had been drifting South the whole time while enshrouded. Knowing of a nearby harbour town, we steered for land.
I was all ready to give this a pasting before seeing the video on TMF’s Ultimate 40 Christmas Songs melted my Scroogeian heart. Or perhaps froze it still further, as what the video did was make me appreciate what a marvellously cynical record this is. Not just the basic cynicism of releasing a Christmas song, rushing in to fill the gap Slade had punched the year before (anyway, releasing Christmas songs is such a basic part of pop it barely qualifies as cynical: if you refuse a grab at this particular brass ring you should probably have your pop license revoked) – “Lonely This Christmas” is one of pop’s most brazenly manipulative guilt trips.
It’s all there in the video – the members of Mud, looking like they’re fighting to choke back sobs as their pitiful tale unfolds; their leader’s face a mask of wounded dignity, only his colossal spectacles hiding his utmost grief. The template for “Lonely This Christmas” is transparently Elvis, specifically “Are You Lonesome Tonight”, but the sentiment in that song is but a light dusting of snowflakes compared to the full-on blizzard of passive-aggressive mopery Mud unleash. To be honest the chorus isn’t all that, but the verses ramp things up nicely (“an UNLIT CHRISTMAS TREE!”) and then the spoken word section is a triumph of the very ripest corn, shovelling on the heartbreak – “this is the time of year when you really…you really NEED love” – in defiance of firstly shame and secondly the very terrible acting skills on display. The payoff line is but the star on top of the tree.
If you’re coming back to Popular after Christmas and reading this, I hope you’ll forgive my indulgence of its festive sentiment – and I hope you had a very good time. If you’re reading this on Christmas Eve, then all I can say is, Merry Christmas Readers … *choke* … wherever you are.
One of the things I’ve realised writing Popular is that Britain tends to like – or tended to like – songs and stars with a tiny hint of the absurd, records that hook you with sincerity but sugar it with the option of reserve. Barry White’s signature hit is straight-up rhapsodic disco, an explosion of love and desire. But the fact that the smoothie who performs it is so recognisable, such a giant, so open to pastiche, unlocks the song for an audience who can take part in it without needing to feel it. This is why it’s a wedding disco favourite (which in turn is why I’m sort of sick of it): anyone can jog around the dancefloor and join in with big Barry’s open-armed professions without feeling stupid, because there’s a level on which the guy who’s singing it has already absorbed any possible ridicule. Which is generous of him, but then it’s a generous record.
I’m in severe danger of starting to hate an excellent song. Not because of what “Fairytale Of New York” is – whole-hearted, rambunctious, sad and sentimental – but because of what it’s being used for: “the great anti-carol” as Sean O’Hagan typically puts it in a piece in today’s Observer, a stick to beat ‘commercialised’ and ‘banal’ Christmas with.
This is my favourite song of 2007:
UPDATE: WE HAS A PODCAST
I haven’t listened to it all yet, so I still don’t know what happened in it either.
Long live the podcast