Tom Ewing

28
Jul 15

You Think We Make Dreams In This Town

The Brown Wedge/Post a comment • 76 views

More comics reviews from goodreads.com

fadeout THE FADE OUT Vol 1 (Image Comics. Ed Brubaker/Sean Phillips/Elizabeth Breitweiser)
SATELLITE SAM Vol 2: Satellite Sam And The Kinescope Snuff (Image Comics. Matt Fraction/Howard Chaykin)

One of the nice things about the current rise of Image is the leeway it gives creators to do passion projects, in this case a pair of historical crime thrillers which stand or fall on how indulgently evocative they are of places long-established in other fictions. So The Fade Out is story set in the dream factory of 40s Hollywood, where fine movies are made by people of integrity who spend their time being nice to each other. ONLY JOKING! There’s a dead starlet pretty much on page one and after that it’s four issues of noir bingo, lovingly executed by the purring collaborative engine of Brubaker and Phillips.

27
Jul 15

RUI DA SILVA ft CASSANDRA – “Touch Me”

Popular26 comments • 1,447 views

#887, 13th January 2001

ruidasilva This Cassandra beats her mythical namesake: people demonstrably listened to her, it’s just hard to remember what she sang. You’d have been forgiven for thinking the allocation of dance number ones at this point was working on something like a quota system: a slot needed to be filled, every twenty or so weeks, and some arcane quango had landed the job of deciding exactly which tracks would qualify. So “Dooms Night”, “Sandstorm”, “Kernkraft 400” all narrowly missed the top, and Rui Da Silva gets the nod. But really there’s no mystery as to how “Touch Me” got here – it was a clubland hit, and doomed attempts to clear a Spandau Ballet sample meant it had plenty of time to build demand such that 70,000-ish people nabbed it when it did finally get a wider release. The rest is simply luck, and a gap in the schedules.

26
Jul 15

Popular ’00

Popular32 comments • 1,127 views

Well, it took longer than I wanted, but we got there in the end: the 42 number ones of 2000, now reviewed and ready for your polling delectation. I give every number one a mark out of ten – here is where you can say what you’d have handed out. High scores this time from me included a 10 for Britney’s “Oops!” and 9s for Spiller and Black Coffee in a strong year. Which was also, by dint of the sheer number of hits, a weak year, with Mariah/Westlife and Five/Queen the double stinkers by my estimation. Over to you.

Which of the Number Ones of 2000 Would You Give 6 Or More To?

View Results

Poll closes: No Expiry

Loading ... Loading ...

Use the comments for other lists, reminiscences, etc etc.

17
Jul 15

BOB THE BUILDER – “Can We Fix It?”

Popular23 comments • 1,896 views

#886, 23rd December 2000

bobcanwe Her career catalysed by her inclusion on “Stan”, Dido’s soft-spoken, ruminative pop became a familiar sound in early 00s Britain. On her second album, Life For Rent, she hit on a metaphor that cuts to the country’s quick, and obliquely hints why a stout claymation builder became the best-selling song of this over-stuffed year. “Life For Rent”, the song, takes the difference between renting and owning as its organising metaphor. “If my life is for rent,” Dido sings wistfully, “And I don’t learn to buy, I deserve nothing more than I get, cos nothing I have is truly mine”. Renting is provisionality, fear, the option of people who are just passing through, and whose opinion is too weak to count for much. Buying, on the other hand – now that’s commitment, maturity, the act of an adult.

Left Me Standing Like A Guilty Schoolboy

FT + The Brown Wedge16 comments • 1,326 views

Jackpot Cover “It’s passionately interesting for me that the things that I learned in a small town, in very modest home, are just the things that I believe have won the Election.” – Margaret Thatcher, 4 May 1979

“The biggest horror is that the whole world’s becoming suburban. I find it very worrying.” – Norman Mansbridge

COVER

The last thing on anyone at IPC’s mind, when they launched a comic, is that somebody might actually want to keep the thing. Comics were born on the production line, and landfill was their grave, and in that brief span between their urge was not to survive but to reproduce, to impel the reader to buy next week’s issue. So in May 1979 the second issue of Jackpot – “IT’S A WINNER” invited mutilation at front and end. On the cover, a free SQUIRT RING to lure buyers in, mounted with sellotape, which still sticks to my Ebayed copy, covering a gash in the paper like a badly sutured wound. On the back, a coupon to fill in, cut out and hand solemnly over to the newsagent: “PLEASE RESERVE A COPY OF JACKPOT FOR ME EVERY WEEK”.

It’s a loyalty game. There are only so many kids who want to buy comics, and most of those already do. A new title offers a raft of new stories, which may or may not wear better than the ones in the comic you already buy, whose formulae have begun to thin and fray. But with a squirt ring, too – who wouldn’t risk ten pence? Then once you’re snagged, the magazine urges you to the newsagent for next week. You don’t want to miss out.

So it is that the first comic you see in Jackpot No.2 is a three panel, silent strip, admirably clear, instructing you on the use and delight of your squirt ring. Panel 1: a girl shows off her ring to a passing boy. Panel 2: the boy leans in close to admire this fine piece of jewellery. Panel 3: SPLOOSH! A deluge – in the poor sap’s face. HAW HAW!

10
Jul 15

EMINEM – “Stan”

Popular51 comments • 3,757 views

#885, 16th December 2000

emstan “Stan” is a murder ballad. A song – not the first or last such Eminem recorded – about killing a woman. If this seems a strange way to look at it, it’s because the record takes pains to make its murder incidental. Its victim is nameless. We know Stan’s name. We know his brother, Matthew’s. We know Slim, the persona Stan is writing to, and we know Marshall Mathers, the man who replies. We even know a possible name for the child the murdered woman is carrying. We do not know her name. That isn’t where we’re supposed to be looking. The spotlight in the song is on the relationship between two men, star and fan. It’s how Stan would have wanted it.

Still, the murder is not incidental: it’s the climax of the record. All through the song, beautifully layered under the vocals, are background noises. They accompany Eminem’s conversational, half-spoken rapping and the unassuming, mid-tempo beat: literal scribbles in the margin of the track, encroaching thunder and rain. In the third verse, the rain is broken up by the wet swoosh of a car windscreen wiper, and, on cue, a woman screaming. Her death, and Stan’s, are what this track has been leading up to.

6
Jul 15

S CLUB 7 – “Never Had A Dream Come True”

Popular27 comments • 1,543 views

#884, 9th December 2000

sclubnever “Never Had A Dream Come True” is enjoyably drippy, but does nothing to shake my sense that S Club 7 are the blandest proposition of this pop era. Like their other early records, it’s aimed at kids, and it feels aimed at kids: a Fisher-Price heartbreak set, a ballad which is as much a teaching aid for what ballads are like as a track in its own right. It doesn’t do its job at all badly, though. It fills the mulled December ballad gap the Spice Girls left behind, and the decision to drop the band element and give the whole track to Jo O’Meara works, gives the heartache a consistency and intensity the song probably wasn’t strong enough to sustain with a group vocal. There’s an air of innocent sincerity to this despite its functional TV show origins, one that lets it get away with its purely textbook sentiment. It’s an ordinary song done as well as it could have been.

5
Jul 15

Popular Crystal Ball: 2015 – What Are You Waiting For?

FT45 comments • 1,151 views

king1985 I’ll let you set the paaaace…. what? Only eight new number ones? Well, we’re not trying that again.

In order, best to worst. The usual caveats apply: don’t expect this to be much of a prediction of final verdicts when I eventually write about them! And obviously it’s a much shorter list than the last two – since the first two months, pretty much, were gobbled up by “Uptown Funk”. The number one position finally starting to match the sclerotic progress of the charts as a whole, then.

What did we get?

4
Jul 15

DESTINY’S CHILD – “Independent Women, Part 1″

Popular71 comments • 2,710 views

#883, 2nd December 2000

destinyswomen It’s hard not to let what Beyoncé Knowles was become swamped by what she is. A veteran, an icon, a woman enjoying a remarkable critical peak, an earner, second only to headphone mogul Dr Dre on current musical money lists – Beyoncé, as she is happy to tell us, works astonishingly hard, but one of the things she works at is controlling her narrative, shaping her career so that each step seems higher than the last, and her success appears pre-ordained. It was there in the name of her own group. “Child of destiny… independent me…”. But that’s only a story. Nothing is really inevitable, and Beyoncé enters Popular running, working, managing her options, using her group’s remarkable success as a springboard, while trying to win a PR battle over the palace coup that finished a multi-platinum line-up and cut a quartet to a reshuffled trio.

28
Jun 15

New Popular Entries: Where And When?

Popular21 comments • 925 views

Hello – just a quick note to reassure people that we haven’t gone back to the bad old days of no updates. My situation is as follows – I’ve been on a long, complicated work project which finishes tomorrow. Then on Tuesday I’m going into hospital to have my gall bladder taken out – if all goes well I’ll be out on Tuesday night and will be recuperating for a week or two. At some point during that I’ll start updating Popular regularly again!

(The next entry is actually half written – if I manage to finish it I’ll put that up, as it offers a bit more discursive meat than poor LeAnn.)

Meanwhile, this is an excellent opportunity to go check out the masses of new recent posts on Marcello and Lena’s Then Play Long blog, which has surged back into activity with some superb writing on the LPs of 1989.

See you all soon! Tom.