Posts from January 2011

Jan 11

Mojo Jojo

FT63 comments • 2,678 views

Here’s a graph for you! It shows the average gap between the year of publication of an issue of Mojo and the year the cover star released their first album. The red line is a trendline of sorts, averaging out 5 years at a time.

As you can see, the gap has been rising pretty steadily – in fact, at a yearly rate. What this means is that time in Mojocoverland – a small fiefdom of Pepperland, somewhere across the Sea Of Dreams – has essentially stood still. Newer groups can make it onto the cover but repeat assignments are rare and since Britpop no new group has managed more than two covers. So there’s no great rate of replacement, but there doesn’t need to be since there’s no real rate of attrition, either: the proportion of covers given to 60s acts isn’t falling.


Jan 11

The FT Top 100 Songs of All Time #10: West Side Story OBC – “America”

FT8 comments • 4,153 views

Poor Rosalia, the only Puerto Rican in West Side Story who seems to actually like Puerto Rico. In contrast to Maria, who prances around the bridal shop pretending to be Miss America (despite the competition being open only to members “of good health and of the white race” at the time), and Anita, whose witty and leggy defence of their adopted home is the basis of the catchiest song in the show and indeed FREAKY TRIGGER’S #10 BEST SINGLE OF ALL TIME, Rosalia is OK with Puerto Rico. In the play script she is described as “quietly dressed and not too bright”, which might explain why she doesn’t really have a problem with the Sharks’ homeland (although it does not explain why the costumers for the 2009 revival gave her such stupid hair). But Puerto Rico, according to Rosalia, is kind of okay. You know, it’s pretty. There are some nice tropical breezes and pineapples there. Maybe sometime she’d like to go back and visit.

NOT SO FAST, IMMIGRANT! You’ve made your choice and you can never go back!

also, in America, purple does not clash with red

[pic: also, in America, girls don’t wear ponytails on top of their heads. Join us in the first world, chiquita!]


Jan 11


Popular128 comments • 8,089 views

#650, 15th September 1990

“The Joker”‘s quick run at Number One is best known for one of the chart’s notorious injustices – it tied in sales with Deee-Lite’s “Groove Is In The Heart” and took the honours owing to a greater sales increase. Cue a certain amount of outrage and a hurried rewriting of the rules, which naturally have never been needed since. No conspiracy, just rotten luck, and “Groove”‘s status as a nailed-on wedding floorfiller means it’s as inescapable as any early 90s #1 anyway.

Even so it looks like a win for tedious old rock over playful frothy pop. But hold on, because the two songs have more in common than it might appear.


Jan 11

The FT Top 100 Songs of All Time #11: MR OIZO – “Flat Beat”

FT + New York London Paris Munich3 comments • 4,824 views

Not flat nor called EricAny 13-year-old from 1995 will tell you that the following are vital if you are to be in any way cool:

– attitude of complete indifference to all events
– inside-out knowledge of everything that happened on telly last night, especially Friends
– Rimmel Black Cherry lipstick
– copy of Sugar magazine (RIP :`()
– some trendy jeans


Jan 11

Continuous pulse

FT13 comments • 921 views

Look at them, ganging up on me with their nutritional valueLentils. There they are, in one of those giant bags no one can honestly ever hope to use the whole of on their own- I used to get through one a week when I was cooking for four or more most nights but really, it turns out there is a limit to the amount of dhal one woman can eat. Huge great bags of orange or yellow or black lentils, satisfyingly coloured, especially once you’ve transferred them into empty jars so you feel like you’re some sort of domestic superhero for ten minutes before the simmering bastards overboil and you end up picking grotty pulse-foam out of the hob again.

Oh yes, look at them. Look at the shiny gorgeousness of the orange ones, the grim shrivelling of lentilles vertes so that you’re never quite sure if they’ve atrophied in the bag or whether they’re still ok to eat and do you really want to find out? I nearly made this post a Cheap Food We Love because lentils most certainly are ideal if you’re on a budget- £2.49 I paid for my giant bag of orange ones and have I got halfway down it in three months? Have I hell. Do I love them, though? Well… they’re always there. And they’re good if you need to make a big thing and can’t be bothered to think beyond chucking some stock and spices together but is that …good? Let alone loveable?


Jan 11

The Year Of Difficult Listening

FT119 comments • 2,668 views

(crossposted with Tumblr)

The Year Of Difficult Reading is a blog reading project someone’s doing – tackle “twelve of the most notoriously difficult novels in the English language” across 2011, one a month. (Two of ’em aren’t English language novels, but they are very well-read in translation, so no quibbling!)

Obviously this project raises a million questions about the definition of difficulty, how it gets assigned, what the value is in approaching ‘difficult’ art, and so on. That’s precisely WHY I thought it would be really interesting to ask what a music equivalent would look like. What records would be on it? What balance of classical tradition and others? What does “difficulty” sound like – does material that’s emotionally or politically difficult stack up against things that are sonically taxing? The reading tumblr has picked stuff which – by and large – is already in the canon, but is this an option in music?

So this post is a call for suggestions, rather than simply discussion. Because it takes less time to listen to a record than to read a book – even a difficult record! – I think we can go for 52 items, not just 12. I’m not necessarily going to DO this project – I have enough on my plate as it is – but I’m very happy to crowdsource a curriculum and leave it open to any lunatic who wants something to take on. Or just leave it as a list and an idea. What I’m hoping to end up with is a list which would include material that you might see as “difficult” whatever your current comfort zone might be. Perhaps that’s impossible. Perhaps the whole idea is misguided. Let’s find out! more »

Jan 11

NARNIA WEEK: Satan Claus

Do You See4 comments • 899 views

The appearance of Father Christmas in The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe always disconcerted me. As a rational child, there was aspects of the Narnian fantasy which confused me a touch. I was OK with the “portal to another world” type of fantasy, but was well aware from Alice and the Wizard Of Oz that there was always a gentle subtext that this was all the “dream” of the protagonist. A good way of spotting this was there being too much specific from their external life (the Wicked Witch resembling the horrid neighbour). But Narnia had in its favour that it was a shared fantasy, Lucy comes and goes twice, and brings others in. Perhaps it a shared hallucination, but the well thought out world building of CS Lewis had me convinced that more was going on here than just pretend. It wasn’t all just a cheap allegory to make me good at maths or reading (yes – I am looking at you Phantom Tollbooth).


Jan 11

companionship to remember

FT4 comments • 382 views

granddaughter susan, barbara the teach,
ian, teen vicki, stowaway steve;
katarina and sarah, both of them dies,
dodo, polly, ben so wise,
jamie, victoria, zoe the brane,
liz, screamy jo, then sarah jane;
doctor harry, leela for dads,
k9 one is not so bad;
second k9, two romanas
adric drives us all bananas;
nyssa, tegan, turlough too,
kamelion, peri, mel, THEN WHO?
ace, grace, rose (who bonds with the tardis)
and everyone fancies captain jack harkness!
donna’s all mouth and martha came next,
while amy’s a hottie which leaves rory vexed…

Jan 11

NARNIA WEEK: HEAVEN, heaven is a place, a place where NOTHING, nothing ever happens

FT3 comments • 1,008 views

The depiction of paradise is as bold as it’s tricky — which is why it’s so rarely undertaken, obviously. There’s Dante, who made it the setting for the last and weakest book in his sword-and-sorcery trilogy. Powell and Pressburger? Hirokazu Kore eda? Tim Burton? Perhaps unsurprisingly, Purgatory’s much easier to realise.

Anyway the fact that CSL attempts it all is one of the three reasons I like The Last Battle. The second is that he makes a tremendous effort to portray how grisly and dispiriting and plain horrible war is: confusing and futile and full of petty treacheries and selfishness and meanness, and exhausting. It is not the jolly jape he slide towards elsewhere (this isn’t entirely fair: the battle in LWW has a memorable nastiness to it…); it’s a sketch of the feel of utter defeat, as felt by basically nice people, and — as so often — he’s very good at intensity of atmosphere and physically memorable (because palpable) imagery. And the third…


NARNIA WEEK / The FT Top 100 Songs: 12: MC Hammer – U Can’t Touch This

New York London Paris Munich6 comments • 937 views

It is serendipitous (in the non Cusack / Beckinsale way) that U Can’t Touch This has turned up in the dying throes of Narnia week. Because MC Hammer’s most well known hit has a surprisingly large number of parallels with the Narnia sequence. Whilst people have seen religious metaphors all over CS Lewis’s fantasy kidlit, well the same it true of this 1990 reworking of Rick James’s Super Freak. Indeed you could say the relationship between the Bible, made of the Old and New Testament is similar to the addition of Hammer’s rap to James’s iconic riff to make You Can’t Touch This. Consider the Old Testament sex and temptation in Super Freak, to the New Testament pacifism and turning the other cheek of Please Hammer, Don’t Hurt ‘Em. Indeed the Gospel According To Hammer is all about not hurting anyone, but just good baggy panted fun.