Posts from October 2011

Oct 11

Journey to the Centre of the YIKES — !

FT21 comments • 1,191 views

(crossposted at my tumblr)

Saw the John Martin: Apocalypse show at Tate Britain yesterday. Oddly mixed feelings: not disappointment exactly — I think I childishly wanted the big end-of-the-world canvasses to be three times bigger — but a mild sense of deflation alongside the enormous enjoyment. I don’t mind AMAZING SPECTACLE and I don’t mind ACTUALLY QUITE SILLY, and of course (like lovely progrock) JM is very often both, and the astonished ooh! of phantasmagoria is very often followed by a slightly shamefaced giggle (I expect someone can work this up into a critical “symptom of modernity (in a bad way)”, but I think both responses are good critical practice, to be honest… ). But this is the Tate

Oct 11

CHARLES AND EDDIE – “Would I Lie To You?”

Popular48 comments • 5,762 views

#683, 21st November 1992

Classicist pop often sacrifices quality for vibe. Shakin’ Stevens might have had the moves down but if “Oh Julie” had fallen back through time to the 50s it would have simply got lost in a flood of better rock’n’roll. The secret shame of the traditionalist is that they’re parasites on the present: they need time to have changed, or they wouldn’t stand out.

Oct 11

X-Factor Live Shows: Week 2

FT/6 comments • 592 views

(Crossposted to Tumblr)

This week – “Love and Heartache” – or as I anticipated DAWN OF THE BALLADOSAURUS. But was I correct? Well, not entirely…

Oct 11

We Are The 52

FT3 comments • 345 views

I have now read 48 of DC Comics’ “New 52” launch titles and a bunch of the second issues: when I’ve finally slogged through the lot of them I’ll post some kind of belated quality scorecard maybe, but I don’t know if the quality of the books is the most interesting thing about them. (Unshocking summary: some are good, some are bad, some boast interesting ideas, some have an air of jaded competence, only one has – and this will live long in the memory – Rob Liefeld being asked to draw Barack Obama.)

I’ve read a couple of round-up pieces – the one in Grantland was very good, for instance, and took the reasonable line that this gigantic relaunch talks the “new readers” talk but doesn’t really walk the “new readers” walk, blaming self-delusion as much as cynicism. This is surely true but just as surely unsurprising: superhero comics are too far down the fan-service rabbit hole for dramatic change to be tried or accepted. We’re looking here at renovation rather than innovation and the relaunch should be judged as such. But even on those terms some interesting patterns emerge from the blur of fists, explosions, lycra and first-person narrative.

Oct 11

X-Factor Live Shows: Week 1

FT/2 comments • 561 views

(Originally posted on my Tumblr)

Tiny background detail: as with last year I’ve studiously avoided previous episodes, press coverage, etc, so I’m coming to these acts (and three of these judges) fresh with no knowledge of who’s who in the narrative around the show. Not that they don’t make it obvious! Here goes –

Feeble theme this week: “US vs UK”, a body blow to the many X-Factor acts who sing Ghanaian or K-Pop tunes. “Sing whatever you like week” fits the ‘twist’, viz each judge will have to vote one of their own acts off. Presumably the judges have a fair idea what their decision will be in advance, so the tension would come with favoured acts fucking up. But do they?

Oct 11

BOYZ II MEN – “End Of The Road”

Popular52 comments • 3,602 views

#682, 31st October 1992

The “End Of The Road” video presented its directors with a logistical dilemma: in a vocal group, what do the other members do when it’s some other dude’s turn to sing? The solution was a sometimes hilarious extended essay in mooching: glum faces, shuffling, shaking heads, three bros feeling the intense purity of their buddy’s pain before it’s their turn to face the camera and plead.

Oct 11

TASMIN ARCHER – “Sleeping Satellite”

Popular82 comments • 6,682 views

#681, 17th October 1992

One-hit wonders can catch time in a bottle like no other records, since there’s barely any career context to distract you from your memories. “Sleeping Satellite” feels achingly 90s, but its mix of busker’s strum, baggy backbeat, and surprise-attack solos isn’t itself typical of any trend – except maybe a vague cosmopolitanism that encouraged such mild genre-blending in the first place. Its one-off cousins are 4 Non Blondes, Lisa Loeb, Natalie Imbruglia even – awkward sincerity throwing cool pop shapes.