Posts from December 2010
Sometime last night the beer-sodden shell of a thing then inhabiting my mortal frame posted a question on Twitter, and the question was this: what is the UK equivalent of “Born In The USA”? I dimly remember having a conversation about how every time I am put on hold by American Express I hear BITU and I can’t even begin to fathom the layers of irony or post-irony or whatever going on there.
“World In Motion” is the ultimate 1990 record, but oddly the specific World Cup it reminds me of is 2002: living in London, broadly optimistic about England’s prospects, watching football in the morning then going out in the afternoon sunshine and having a beer, maybe dancing later. That timelag made it a topsy-turvy experience, gave the sensation of the usual order of a World Cup summer being turned enjoyably upside down. The same kind of pleasant dislocation, in fact, that struck me when I heard, 12 years earlier, that New Order were going to make the England team record, and it was going to be called “E For England”.
Well, it wasn’t, but given the chain of marvelous unlikeliness this did set off – New Order doing a football song, New Order at number one, John Barnes rapping on a chart-topping hit – I can’t begrudge one missing bit of cheekiness. The mooted title also points at what makes the track work – this really, genuinely “ain’t a football song”, the sport takes its place in a more universal celebration of summer, freedom, optimism, and most of all dance music.
(Front page bump)
It really may well be the tenth anniversary of the Annual Between Christmas And New Year Pub Crawl (FTABCANYPC or as we like to call it Fat Abs Canny PC). Every year since 2000 the drinkers of Freaky Trigger have spent the 29th December in a pub. Well, at least seven pubs infact, as it’s the quietest pub day of the year, so we do our bit for the licensed trade and try to bolster their coffers.
Past crawls have taken in the Euston Hexagon, the Mornington Crescent, strange arcane routes across the river and last year a foray into Pimlico. The pubs are always interesting and at least one is always shut. This will almost certainly be the case this year as we have boldly decided to hit the City – and area we never normally drink in. We know that there are lots of pubs, some may even be good, and we are taking advantage of the downtime between Christmas and New Year to see some of them. If they are open.
In between scoffing the piles of roast potatoes, mounds of gingerbread, oodles of mince pies, and white truffle macarons(!!!), I make time to try my special Christmas cheese. Carefully chosen and lovingly wrapped, and placed under the tree for me to find on Christmas day….
Here’s a pair of quotes from online stuff I read recently. First, Kevin Fanning on the Buffy musical episode:
“I asked Twitter people to send me their recommendations for the best episodes and the response was overwhelmingly in favor of Once More With Feeling. Which is interesting! An important Buffy episode? Sure. A very memorable episode? Uh-Doy! One of the best? Hmmm!…. I don’t want to fight about it. I just thought it was interesting. Does “memorable” equal “good,” the way “skinny” came to mean “pretty,” or “famous” came to mean “important”?
R&B artists tend to receive most critical praise when they ostentatiously bust out of their genre – when they make a point of removing themselves from its formalism. Sullivan, though, proves how much more mileage there is in letting your ideas run riot while staying true to genre values – and has made the most creative R&B album of the year to prove it.
I have never seen the Buffy episode, and I haven’t (yet) heard the Sullivan album. But I recognise the dynamics these snippets outline – the privileging of the memorable over the merely good. Doesn’t sound so unreasonable when you put it like that, but Lex has a point too – doesn’t giving too much attention to mutations and boundary-pushers risk missing out on the core qualities something delivers? If the thing you like best breaks the rules of its genre, doesn’t that suggest a basic dissatisfaction with that genre?
Instead of an executive stress reliever this year I had a series of polls on the Livejournal Doctor Who community Diggerdydum, asking members which – of the 200+ stories broadcast since 1963 – was the best one? We’ve done it over a series of rounds and today I’m putting up the final poll, which unless there’s been a late turnaround in fortunes looks set to put two “new series” stories against one another, both written by current showrunner Steven Moffat. One is 2005’s The Empty Child two-parter (the one with the scary gas-mask kid). The other is 2007’s Blink (the one with the scary statues). Or I should say, the one with the scary statues and without much actual Doctor in it.
*where “you” are the people on Twitter or Tumblr who answered the question, “What’s the best thing you wrote all year?”. This includes some very good people, so let’s celebrate the casting away of false modesty and go and read their self-proclaimed best stuff.
Alex Macpherson went and saw Laura Marling live, and reviewed that.
Andy Hutchins wrote about “internet radar” and suspicious memes.
Brad Nelson had an argument about Taylor Swift.
Caitlin Moran wrote about partying with (and talking to) Lady Gaga
Chris Burlinghame wrote about falling back in love with music.
Chris Randle wrote about 50 Cent’s strange year and his videogame acting.
Christian Ward wrote a song! Called “The Angry Brigade”
Kat Stevens wrote some print stuff, but her favourite online thing was this Singles Jukebox entry.
Jonathan Bogart wrote 52 true statements about the “United States of Pop 2009”.
Mark Richardson wrote about Tune-Yards, Christina Aguilera, beauty and self-esteem.
Matthew Harris wrote about a family reunion.
Matthew Horton reviewed the new OMD album and pointed out what the revisionists don’t.
Matthew Perpetua had ten explanations for Spoon’s “Mystery Zone”.
Mehan Jayasuriya wrote a eulogy for Mark Linkous.
Michael Saba wrote a piece for Paste about the Iranian underground music scene.
Mike Atkinson ringmastered and wrote commentary for his “Which Decade” project.
Mike Barthel approved of the Scissor Sisters in The Awl and also (cos I asked him for a non-music choice too) wrote about his experiences with Tourette’s.
Pete Ashton wrote about how our experience of social media is ‘sliced’ and about the possibilities for local media.
Sally O’Rourke wrote about “Lily, Rosemary And The Jack Of Hearts” for Popmatters.
Tumblr’s Thirtydollarproject wrote about Sufjan Stevens.
Tim Byron wrote about Pink’s “Raise Your Glass” for The Vine.
Thanks to everyone who named a piece!
We are having our first ever Readers Poll this year! It’s only going to be a little poll, with just one category – the best tracks of the last year. If you’re reading this, and especially if you’re a regular reader or commenter, we’d love you to take part.
All you need to do is send an email with your 20 favourite tracks of 2010, in order, to email@example.com. And you should do this before the end of Sunday 2nd January 2011, so we can run the results on the week of the 3rd. That’s it really! But there are a few clarifications below the cut anyway.
From Yazoo onwards, collaborations between electronic musicians and soul singers have followed certain protocols. The singer is the star, the living presence on the right-hand side of that “featuring”: the producer is the mood-setter, the collective. Human vs robot, emotion vs rhythm, soul vs body, warm vs cold, blah vs blah. It’s not that the resulting records have been bad – smoky voices and harsh synths do sound terrific together – but the rules of engagement were laid down early and hard.
MIGHT CONCEIVABLY MAKE A GOOD RECORD BUT PROBABLY WON’T: One Direction.
MIGHT CONCEIVABLY MAKE A GREAT RECORD AS LONG AS WILL I AM KEEPS HIS GRUBBY PAWS OFF: Cher Lloyd
WILL MAKE A DISAPPOINTING BUT COMPETENT RECORD: Rebecca Ferguson
WILL MAKE A RECORD THAT IS NOT AS BAD AS THE RECORDS IT WANTS TO BE BUT STILL, FOR ALL THAT, BAD: Matt Cardle
WILL MAKE A RECORD, GOD HELP US: Wagner
WILL TRY TO MAKE A RECORD, GOD HELP US: Katie Waissel
TESCO EXCLUSIVE SEWN UP: Mary Byrne
MUSICAL THEATRE AND/OR PANTO AWAITS: Aiden Grimshaw
BACK TO THE PUB CIRCUIT (INCREASED FEES): Treyc Cohen, John Adeleye
BACK TO THE PUB CIRCUIT (REDUCED FEES): Diva Fever
OBLIVION: Belle Amie, F.Y.D.
EMBARRASSING TALKING HEAD APPEARANCE IN CHEAPO CLIP SHOW: Storm Lee
WILL WALK AWAY WITH A LEVEL HEAD, A SMILE ON HIS FACE AND SOME GREAT YARNS TO TELL THE GRANDCHILDREN: Paije Richardson
WILL PROVIDE VOCALS ON AN IRONIC DANCE-PUNK RECORD WHICH WILL PROVE THE WORST THING TO COME OUT OF X-FACTOR 2010: Nicolo Festa
This week the Lollards reflect on Fame, and if they too want to live forever. Brushes with celebrity, real or fictional, the correct way to get an autograph of of a celebrity and the Panto – the SI unit of notoriety. And yes, wherever there is fame, there is infamy (and indeed they have all got in in for us). Pete Baran is joined by Hazel Robinson and Alan Trewartha to rake over the Heat magazines of years past and ask if the Kids From Fame were so good, how come none of them are famous now?