Posts from December 2008

Dec 08

In The Court Of The Crimson Cyber-King

FT16 comments • 839 views

There. I just wanted to say that before anyone else on the interwebs (and I probably haven’t).

OK, of all the accusations that could be thrown at Russell T.Davies, closet prog-rock fan seemed, before tonight, unlikely. He has had ample opportunity to invent a race of armadillo tank monsters in the last few years after all called Tarkus. And whilst he has dallied with the Tudor period in the series, we have never seen The Six Wives Of Henry The Eighth On Ice. So it came as a touch of a shock to realise that all the flim-flammery about David Morrisey’s “Doctor” (that no-one believed going in let alone past the first two minutes) was really a slight of hand for a visual gag which would go over the head of much of its target audience. This truly was one for the dads. Or the grandads these days (King Crimson’s debut being in 1970 I believe). Of course having one of the Cybermen gurn and have massive nostrils would have also helped. Spoilers follow.

Dec 08

Why Don’t You…? THE MOVIE

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InkheartInkheart is a fun little kids movie which has a couple of contradictions at its inky heart that it can never really shy away from. Oddly its the most British of the recent batch of fantasy films, despite being set in Europe and starring Brendan Fraser. Fraser’s Americaness is never really explained away despite being Helen Mirren’s nephew and having raised a daughter on his own who also has a cut glass English accent. But then this just goes to show how superfluous Fraser’s character Mortimer is (MORTIMER – that’s a nice American name).

Dec 08

500: 32-46

FT4 comments • 579 views

A quick recap!

This is a series of posts “liveblogging” the Pitchfork 500, reflecting the book’s dual purpose as criticism and playlist. The ground rule is that I do the writing in real time as I listen to the music: no edits after that (except of typos). Posts in this series are intermittent, because I don’t have a lot of uninterrupted writing time.

Disclaimer: I write regularly for Pitchfork and contributed a dozen pieces to the book. I have no insider knowledge of how tracks were selected, had no say in the selection, and any commentary on the book’s purpose etc. is purely speculative.

In this episode: Reggae gets its first look in, and the awkward squad of post-punk gives way to mutant disco…

Chartmythwatch: “Hallelujah” Special!

FT10 comments • 438 views

On two separate news reports last night I saw it mentioned that – if the Facebook campaign to get Jeff Buckley’s “Hallelujah” to No.1 is a success (or a near-miss) – this week we might see the first instance of the same song being No.1 and No.2 in two different versions. This would be historic, said a dude from HMV.

Except, as all Popular readers doubtless know, the claim is COBBLERS.

Dec 08

SHAKIN’ STEVENS – “This Ole House”

FT + Popular46 comments • 4,975 views

#477, 28th March 1981

The last time “This Ole House” came up, a commenter on ILM quite rightly pointed out what I somehow hadn’t twigged – that it’s a song about dying. Of all songs on that theme, it’s surely one of the most stoical in its way – a joyful “whatever” in the teeth of advancing decrepitude. Liveliness was about all Shakin’ Stevens had going for him, but goodness he worked it.

Shaky sidesteps new wave and new pop and reaches back to the rock’n’roll revival that played such a part in the mid-70s’ charts. That had a cabaret tinge and so does he, but there’s an energy in his pastiche that – at this stage anyway – keeps it bearable. His other great advantage over fellow revivalists was knowing how to present that energy on video – on the clip for “This Ole House” he’s in perpetual motion and as the song cuts from room to room to roof it’s like Shaky’s dancing with the house itself.

Dec 08

ROXY MUSIC – “Jealous Guy”

FT + Popular56 comments • 5,726 views

#476, 14th March 1981

A band who helped define the 70s cover a song from the 70s by a man who barely outlived the 70s – and yet the cool precision of “Jealous Guy” makes it a recording utterly of the 1980s. The record’s attention to clinical detail seems to will compact discs into being: every instrument is perfectly, unhurriedly placed. Synthesiser washes like marble tiles; thick brushstrokes of guitar; the thread of whistling that plays the song out – “Jealous Guy” is immaculate.


FT3 comments • 535 views

21. Opus III – It’s A Fine Day

Whilst I might not have experienced the (ahem) primary effects of rave culture aged 11, I definitely succumbed to the vast swathe of hippy b0ll0cks that seemed to permeate the early nineties. Commune with nature! Tap mystical leylines to enhance your psychic powers! Own a minimum of three crystals and ensure that one of them is purple! Be ready to welcome our new alien overlords now they can safely invade Earth through the hole in the ozone layer! Draw all over your Girl’s World head in biro labelling the different bits of brain! And why not save the humpbacked whale while you’re at it?

Kate Beckinsale Ruined My Marriage

FT7 comments • 358 views

Ah, the influence brigade are back in town. But for once they have put down their videogame controllers and have turned their gaze from violent horror movie to the insidious harm done to us by ROMANTIC COMEDIES! As this study suggests (in no way conclusively in my mind but it is on-going research) romantic comedies put forward an unrealistic view of relationships and thus promote lack of communication. Which if you have ever seen the relative match between the attractiveness of the man and the woman in most rom-coms the word unrealistic does not even come close. That said does it really mean women in the seventies all harbour secret desires for Woody Allen.

“As part of the project, 100 student volunteers were asked to watch the 2001 romantic comedy Serendipity, while a further 100 watched a David Lynch drama.”

Dec 08

How to shoot down someone who outdrew ya

Do You See + FT/10 comments • 966 views

(This entry crossposted with Blackbeardblog.)

It’s certain that Leonard Cohen’s song “Hallelujah” will be the Christmas #1. But which version? PR Media Blog reports on a Facebook campaign to put Jeff Buckley’s version at #1 instead of the version by X-Factor winner Alexandra Burke.

The blog post sets up the battle as old v new media, but also as the manipulative hand of S.Cowell vs “the people”. A quick Twitter search for “Hallelujah” seems to back this up. “Stop X-Factor getting to number 1, buy Jeff Buckley’s Hallelujah”. “Buckley’s is still my favourite version of Hallelujah and this fact will not do me any favours.” “attention pundits: Stop mis-interpreting “Hallelujah”. It is not about redemption. Nor is it a song of Hope.”

Though other notes are being struck: “Oh I loved the hallelujah song”. “did not follow X-Factor but has just listened to Hallelujah and choked up a bit.” The reactions – whichever version they favour – suggest that the pop critic Mike Barthel was right when, in his excellent 2007 paper on the song, he described its appeal as lying in its intimacy – it’s a song that, however mainstream it becomes, always feels like a personal discovery to its fans.

Dec 08


FT3 comments • 551 views

20. Praga Khan – Injected With A Poison

Like ‘The Magic Friend‘ earlier on, I found this a bit too intense on the first listen – acid squelching, whooping vocals courtesy of Jade 4U, and a scary man singing about poison. And piano breaks. And an underwater electric whisk. And one of those duck-calling kazoo things. Crikey!