Posts from 2013
One of the advantages of having this project take far longer than imagined is that I get to see the reputations of artists tilt and upend as the years go by. At the point where I began writing, when the Take That story was, essentially, the Robbie Williams story, “Forever Love” was pop’s most pyrrhic No.1. Gary Barlow – pop’s great white Ivor-Novello-garlanded hope – achieves his apex moment without realising how deeply pop had changed around him, and his legacy is washed away. Listen to my works, ye mighty, and despair. Or maybe just doze off.
FIRST OF ALL: look away now, there be massive spoilers in this discussion.
SECOND OF ALL: look away now if you are Christopher Tolkien, nothing here will lift yr spirits.
THIRD OF ALL: look away now if you routinely despise Tolkien and all works, viz elves, fantasy lit, slapstick CGI, etc.
<– note for slowpokes, this doesn't happen in this film, it's just a picture i like a lot
The Hobbit is a not-very-long book for children which takes a small person with big private dreams out into a very large world, in which said person is able to demonstrate his value to others, and that (to nearly everyone's astonishment) he is a wise and resourceful fellow to have around, in some quite unexpected ways, who hides much of this behind a mask of semi-deliberate silliness (except sometimes the mask is the face: ppl who play at silliness for whatever reason get into the habit of silliness).
One of the intriguing properties of the brain is its ability not just to detect patterns, but to complete them, even where none exist. Think of the famous optical illusion of the false triangle – all you actually see are three circles with slices taken out of them, arranged facing one another like a meeting of pac-men with angles in between. But they are arranged to suggest a triangle, and they more than suggest it – the brain fills out the triangle sides, “seeing” a shape that isn’t there.
And so it is that after knowing the Fugees’ “Killing Me Softly” for 17 years I could sit down and think to myself, “I’ll just check who does which verse on it”. “Killing Me Softly” is a hip-hop record, by a hip-hop group, with a hip-hop beat and hip-hop adlibs, so my memory hallucinates rapping where none exists.
Yes, it’s the most wonderful time of the year, it’s FTABCANYPC time!
This year for our 14th crawl we will be having a little saunter around Islington.
Every year, on the 29th (except when it wasn’t) we go an a merry trail around a list of pubs, many of which may be closed, to appreciate the architecture, and, you know, maybe drink. This year’s route takes us from one end of Penton Street to the other, but via a somewhat circuitous route (not as bad as when first planned when we were going to go via The North Pole!)
The route is as follows:
3pm: The Lexington
4pm: Shakespeare’s Head
5pm: Earl Of Essex
5.45pm: Wenlock & Essex
6.30: Camden Head
7:30: Steam Passage
8:30 Craft N1
Although, as always, this is a rough timetable and route as It Is Written that at least one pub on the planned route shall be closed (hopefully we’ll do better than last year when I think we ended up losing three of the original pubs…). If you’re following me or pete on twitter I’m sure we’ll keep up a running commentary of where we are if we go off-piste.
The other week when we were planning I got a bit bored so you can now see the glory of all 13 previous crawls in one handy google map. I think there may be a couple of inaccuracies, as several of these were based on planned routes, not actual (for some reason there’s not a lot of Reporting Back compared to planning, even in the Imperial Phase of ilx) particularly the Marylebone (2008) and City (2010) ones where I’m pretty sure I’ve got a couple wrong. I think it’s kind of more interesting where we *haven’t* been, although Fitzrovia and Soho were covered extensively by Trig Brother (and were our usual early 00s haunts).
UPDATE: Finally sent out details. If you are a manager listed here and you haven’t got them then a) check your spam folder and b) shout at me cos I probably got your email wrong…
UPDATE 2: Unfortunately, Italy manager Tom Schaller has had to pull out (thanks for letting me know so promptly!) so I’m delighted to welcome 2010 finalist manager Andrew Hickey back to the PWC, and I’m sure Italy’s fans are delighted too.
Here we go – NOW UPDATED WITH GROUPS. I will be getting in touch with you over the weekend (assuming I can find an email address).
Click below the cut for the full groups.
On Public Enemy’s Fear Of A Black Planet, there’s a track called “Incident At 66.6 FM” – a 90-second cut-up of derisive, racist radio commentary on the band that brings you-the-listener right up to speed on why they felt besieged, and puts you on their side for the fightback. The first thirty seconds of “Three Lions” pull off a very similar trick for a rather less radical cause: England fans. It’s a compact, adroit bit of pop scene-setting. In the background, the low swell of a stadium rousing itself for battle. In the foreground, critics officiate at a funeral. “I think it’s BAD NEWS for the English game…not CREATIVE enough, not POSITIVE enough… we’ll GO ON getting bad results…”
Wait, though – even as these suited vultures gather, we hear another voice – lone and thin, but firm and honest, singing a song that is halfway to a prayer. “It’s coming home, it’s coming home… “ Against the ranks of pessimism, cynicism, analysis and fact, against their own better judgement, the fan can’t help but believe. Football is coming home.
It’s a magnificent bit of manipulation: the marketer in me swoons in admiration. The rest of “Three Lions” develops the theme but all you need to know is in that intro. Who, on hearing it, wouldn’t be on the side of the fan’s simple faith against the doomsayers? In half a minute “Three Lions” defined the English game’s sense of itself for the rest of the 90s, and the 00s too – sentimental belief against obstinate fact, with the former winning the moral victory every time.
It’s the 13th issue of Kieron Gillen & Jamie McKelvie’s run on Young Avengers tomorrow. Aside from a foreboding moment for triskaidekaphobic fans, it’s the start of the end of this season. A season I have miserably failed to live up to the initial commitment of writing about every issue of. For largely boring adult reasons like ‘needing to do the washing,’ ‘never seeming to get a minute to think,’ ‘being very stressed and tired’ and worst of all ‘not really being able to get away with writing at work.’ All of the responsibility and none of the capacity.
If I saw myself as a grown up, from the vantage point of some reality-trashing portal back to youth, I’d be thoroughly appalled. Where did all my conviction go? “No, shut up,” my older self would plead, “it’s incredibly complicated trying to remember to function like a normal human being” while my sullen, accusatory teenage self glared at me with all the anger and disappointment of discovering that ‘normal human being’ becomes the peak of her existential ambition.
The point of this post is very simple. If you want to be a manager in the Pop World Cup, put your name in the comments and pick a specific team (first come first served) or choose a random one.
More clarification? But of course!
The passing of an era – this is the last (to date) directly Eurovision-related Number One, 29 years after the first. And honestly, even Gina is an outlier: the Eurovision Song Contest had intersected with mainstream UK pop less and less often since its 70s and early 80s heyday. Glam, bubblegum, AOR balladry and soft rock had been good fits for it – hip-hop and house distinctly less so.
Freed from any hope that it might reflect or divert the currents of modern pop, Eurovision could settle fully into the role in British pop it had half-played for years. It presented a comfortable image of what European pop was: gaudy, kitschy, ironic and out-of-date. Marketers, then waking to the idea of the pink pound as an untapped resource, seized on the show’s popularity with gay audiences (and students) and promoted it to the UK mainstream as an unabashed festival of camp. At the same time, though, the definition of Europe itself was expanding. It seemed post-communist countries wanted to use Eurovision the way Western Europe once had: as a symbol of European belonging and a fillip to national pride. The tension between these two trends made for fascinating contests, and Eurovision in the 00s was the competition at its best – after it had ceased to ‘matter’ in UK chart terms.
This data – on every UK Top 10 hit, taken at 10-year intervals – comes from a study on alcohol references in music, published in Psychology Of Music last month. The study is less interesting to me than this one fascinating table, which puts a bit of concrete data around trends in pop over the last 30 years. They even significance tested it! I’ll add my analysis under the cut.