Posts from November 2008

18
Nov 08

UFC vs WWE

TMFD3 comments • 854 views

I’d never watched any of the ‘ultimate fighting’ stuff, bar a little in a pub once. It looked very boring to me. I’m a big WWE fan – as silly as it is, I am hugely entertained by that. At the weekend I saw an ad for the next big Ultimate Fighting Championship event, and the main match seemed to be a world title fight between someone called Randy Couture (who inexplicably seems not to have a line of clothing to promote) and Brock Lesnar, who used to be in the WWE. This intrigued me: fans of UFC will often regard the WWE superstars with contempt. Obviously it’s all fixed, and the wrestlers help sell their opponents’ moves to a very blatant degree, so those who dislike the WWE deduce from this that the stars are just showy bodybuilders with gimmicks, and wouldn’t last five minutes in a fight with, for instance, a top ultimate fighter. (A couple of top ultimate fighters had tried their hand in the WWE, but never amounted to much as far as I am aware – obviously it demands somewhat different physical skills, and to get to the top it helps to have some sort of distinct personal style too, of course.)

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ABBA – “The Winner Takes It All”

FT + Popular104 comments • 10,236 views

#463, 9th August 1980

“The Winner Takes It All” is pure theatre. In the sense that it’s a showstopper – Andersson and Ulvaeus had been getting itchy with the singles-albums routine and thinking towards the stage for a while, and this song by itself pretty much demanded that an ABBA musical come into being one day. But also in the sense that the song’s context is a performance – a final performance, with an audience of one – and the song is a sequence of desperate, doomed ploys by its singer to win over that audience, even as he’s flipping up his seat, putting on his coat and hat and walking out of the show forever.

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FT Top 100 Tracks Of All Time: 37: T-REX – Metal Guru

FT10 comments • 1,020 views

Marc Bolan was never one of the great dead pop stars when I was a kid. T-Rex were not on my pop radar, seemingly out of fashion from the late seventies until a Bolan track was used to sell jeans in the late eighties. I really don’t remember hearing them much at all, not in the gobsmacking way I did when, post said jeans commercial, I looked them up in the Guinness Book of Hit Singles. Number ones, big hits, tragic popstar death. Why did I not know these tracks?

So once 20th Century Boy had burned its way into my brain, I made an effort to hear more. The albums were really hard to get hold of, which I put down to their ridiculous title (My People Were Fair And Had Sky In Their Hair But Now They’re Content To Wear Stars On Their Brows for example*).

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14
Nov 08

ODYSSEY – “Use It Up And Wear It Out”

FT + Popular35 comments • 3,355 views

#462, 26th July 1980

“Use It Up” steamed to number one on the back of its chant-friendly refrain: “one, two, three – shake your body down!”. But, effective though the surging chorus is, there’s a lot more going on here. The band are mix-and-matching a bunch of dancefloor protocols – sweet disco backing vox; whistles and latinate rhythmic tinges; chirruping and squawking synths; steelband suppleness; and finally some lovely scat-singing on the extended version’s coda. The result is pleasingly loose and relaxed, an open-door party where how you move matters a lot more than where you’re from.

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Give Him The Boot (Aka Get Out Of Jail Scott Free)

FT2 comments • 134 views

So Hasbro have tapped up Ridley Scott to make a film based on Monopoly. Ridley has responded by saying it will most closely resemble Blade Runner, a futuristic city scape where giant ships, cars and scottie dogs speed around snapping up property. Though trying to transpose some of the rule of Monopoly will give the film a very idiosyncratic feel. For example there isn’t much of a survey done before buying property in monopoly, let alone a HIP. Generally you land on something and you buy it sight unseen. So expect to see a cruise ship with ADD snapping up property wherever they may be. More intriguingly is the way rental works in Monopoly. You pop down Old Kent Road, and though you may be there for all of twenty seconds you owe someone rent.

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13
Nov 08

OLIVIA NEWTON JOHN AND ELO – “Xanadu”

FT + Popular34 comments • 2,568 views

#461, 12th July 1980

A splash of escapist colour, ELO’s only number one also feels rather dated, out of synch with any of the gritty or futurist or reactionary 1980s we’ve met so far. This is in one way a very unfair perception: this was a meeting of two commercial powerhouses, best-selling artists of the last two years. But while ELO’s disco move had made plenty of sense in 1979, it had also coincided with the peak of disco’s mainstream popularity – the film, touted as the new Grease, was a relative bomb, and it seems to me the context “Xanadu” fits into is a kind-of mopping up of the seventies.

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12
Nov 08

When Do We Get Her Out Of The Cranberries?

FT4 comments • 253 views

OK. Her out of the Cranberries is not dead so this featured website will not be doing a portrait of her soon. But it is a lovingly curated site of what dead celebrities would look like as the undead: called “Portrait As Living Dead”. They all seemed much of a muchness until I started to flick down the list, and noticed a few who died violent or disfiguring deaths. So plane crash victims seem to lose a large amount of flesh, gunshot wounds do indeed remain (JFK) and of course : as you can see here – the Jayne Mansfield.

Any suggestions? It is I believe a French based site, which has a nicely political bent so some of the great and good assasination victims have popped up. I note they don’t seem to consider relative decomposition (JFK looks as fresh if not better than Aaliyah). But post Dead Set and Zombie Davina, are we really all that far away from a celeb impression filled zombie movie?

The Freaky Trigger Actual 38th Top Track Of All-Time As Chosen By You The Readers: BALTIMORA – Tarzan Boy

FT///2 comments • 1,252 views

Pop culture songs are tricky. Just look at that current Scouting For Girls song about James Bond. I am not cynical enough to say that Scouting For Girls have picked a release date just because Quantum Of Solace just came out. But some commentators might. Just as some people may note a match up between the release of Baltimora’s Tarzan Boy a few months after Greystoke: The Legend Of Tarzan mopefest was released. But this would again be a case of coincidence – as the jolly Eurodisco of Tarzan resembles in no way the dull Christopher Lambert starrer. To me Baltimora’s song was a much better match to the playful Johnny Weissmuller Tarzan season shown during the 1985 summer holidays. Us indoorsy kids not playing out in that balmy summer were not big time record buyers – so our Cheeta love alone could not be why punters in their droves snapped up this pop culture special – without it being a novelty single.

One of the things I always appreciated about Baltimora’s lyrics in Tarzan Boy is how little it really refers to Edgar Rice Burrough’s most lucrative creation.

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11
Nov 08

DON MCLEAN – “Crying”

FT + Popular65 comments • 3,704 views

#460, 21st June 1980

1980’s summer of mope continues with this mawkish, overheated Roy Orbison cover. Orbison’s great strength as a singer was his dignity: as a performer he knew when to hold firm in the face of grief, and more importantly, he knew when to crack. McLean shows no such awareness – he has no dignity to lose in the first place, and his performance here sounds slick and horribly insincere. Lacking the skill to bring any emotion to the song, he opts instead to slather on the strings to a quite grotesque degree: the last minute of this record, with McLean’s puny falsetto battling an avalanche of tacky tears, is painful.

Just Be Thankful It Is Not Scratch And Sniff

FT10 comments • 190 views

This years winner for the Anti-Date Movie Of The Year at the BAFTA’s is already a given, Steve McQueen’s Hunger will kill that burgeoning relationship stone dead. There is nothing like a dirty protest to turn a date off. But what is interesting about Hunger is the political context of the film. History is apparently written by the winners, but what if there aren’t any winners? The reality of Northern Ireland is a bitter struggle followed by complex but on the whole civilised round table talks. Much as there isn’t a film called CONVENTION, about some white people around a table in Geneva, I am guessing we are not going to see STORMONT, or THE NORTHERN IRELAND PEACE PROCESS. So what good does Hunger do now?

In this controversial piece of op/ed in the Guardian David Cox argues that there seems something wrong about Hunger being funded by mainly British taxpayers money. Whilst I think for once the UK Film Council’s money has gone into a strikingly good film, I do have some sympathy for the argument (less so for the way in which he makes it and his views on torture).

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