6
Apr 14

A PERFECTER PERFECT DAY — by !!SCIENCE!!

FT19 comments

sunraImagine YOU have been appointed (time-travelling) decider on the 1997 multi-artist version of Perfect Day?

Who would you keep? Who would you drop? Who would you draft?

Assume you have all the budget you could possibly need, and all the persuasive powers to cut through shyness (or else tell the story of who you think you’d fail to coax in…)

Is it still a lobbying ad for the BBC? Is it an ad for the BBC today (as opposed to 15+ years ago)? Is it something else entirely? You curate and you explain!

Would you strive for:
less of the wrong kind of cool (paging wichitalineman)?
less of the wrong kind of soul (paging punctum)?
less of the wrong kind of teenybop (paging puking purplekylie)?
less of the wrong kind of rap (paging everyone!)?
less of the wrong kind of reap!
less metal? (ok can’t actually be less metal i don’t think)
less repeat appearance-y?
less top-of-the-range nobbers phoning it in? (YES s/b FEWER SHUT UP)
less quilty pleasure (more actual real pluralism)? (yes i said QUILTY SHUT UP)
less non-amazing?
less unappealing to YOU THE CURATOR? (be bold! be interesting!)
less 90s? (go wild! you can after all travel in time)

List suggestions and manifestos in the thread and we will take it to RIGOROUS POLL SCIENCE

And under the cut, the 29 artists in the BBC’s original, just to remind everyone

5
Apr 14

Beamslingers

FT1 comment

I have finally compiled Hazel and my posts about Young Avengers (and matters related) into a series – you should be able to see it there at the side when you open this post.

This post – which I’m writing weeks after Hazel put her final essay up – will end up being the intro to the whole thing. So here’s the intro-ish bit.

4
Apr 14

VARIOUS ARTISTS – “Perfect Day”

Popular92 comments

#777, 29th November 1997

PDay Charity covers as multi-artist jigsaw puzzles were a whiskery idea by this point, so it’s remarkable how startling and beguiling “Perfect Day” sounds. It’s a successful reinvention of the Band Aid concept that also more or less finishes it off: the next time I write about this kind of record, it’ll have explicit nostalgic overtones.

There are several things this record gets right. Firstly, it wasn’t a record. The “Perfect Day” collage was a video first – a promotional film for the BBC justifying its license fee – and it had a huge visual impact. Massive stars, enticingly shot, and – crucially – not collaborating. The point of Band Aid and USA For Africa was that the famine crisis had been big enough to bring all of pop together, but the BBC’s aim on “Perfect Day” was to celebrate its diversity, not its unity.

3
Apr 14

PWC14: Group D Finale (Uruguay, England, Costa Rica, Italy)

Pop World Cup 201415 comments

carnesi Welcome to the Group D finale! Here’s how things stand.

Uruguay (managed by Matthew) have 5 points. A win or second place will certainly see them through – even with other results qualification is still possible.

England (managed by Ronald) have 4 points. Basically, any result in which they place higher than Costa Rica will see them through, and some others too.

Costa Rica (managed by Pete) have 3 points. They have no certain route to qualification but a win should do it.

Italy (managed by Andrew Hickey) have 0 points and cannot qualify. But they can still have an effect on the destiny of the group….

1
Apr 14

AQUA – “Barbie Girl”

Popular72 comments

#776, 1st November 1997

barbie Branding, unsurprisingly, started with cows. When it moved from livestock to consumer goods, it expanded from a mark of ownership to a mark of consistency, but also of quality. As Andy Warhol put it in 1965, “All the Cokes are the same and all the Cokes are good. Liz Taylor knows it, the President knows it, the bum knows it, and you know it.” The same went for Barbie.

What this meant was brand owners could begin to decouple consistency and quality. If all the Cokes are good, they need not actually be the same. You can have Diet Coke, Cherry Coke, Vanilla Coke. You can have coke bottled in Bialystok and Bilbao. You can have squirts of Coke syrup mixed with nozzled soda water, and by the power of the brand, all of it is Coke. The material existence of the product and the symbolic existence of the brand become more separated than ever but also more mutually dependent. Marketing, advertising, research (and a chunk of Warhol’s art) is very often about understanding and exploiting the relationship between them. The product Barbie creates the brand Barbie, but the brand Barbie is what then makes the existence of Ken possible.

the opposite of disruption is memory

FT1 comment

Michele Kirsch is a friend from NME days; Mama K’s True Stories began as a column devised for City Limits in the mid 80s. It suited her writing style — and the need for it perhaps marked the accelerated dwindling in that time of the range of ways you were likely to be allowed to talk about music or books or film or life, at least in weeklies and monthlies devoted to record reviews and tour news and the promo interview run. City Limits was not long for the world in any viable form; I went on to edit The Wire and lost touch with MK till I ran into her on a Hackney street-corner a couple of months ago.

31
Mar 14

PWC14: Group C Finale (Japan, Cote D’Ivoire, Greece, Colombia)

FT + Pop World Cup 201418 comments

shakira Welcome to the final Group C match. Let’s see how things stand.

This group is a 3-way scrap. Japan (managed by Patrick St Michel) sit precariously on top with 4 points and a strong %-point difference. Cote D’Ivoire (managed by Garry) also have 4 points, and after their win in the second game Greece (managed by Billy Dods) have 3. All of these will go through with a win, and Japan or Cote D’Ivoire will be safe with second place. Meanwhile, Colombia have 1 point, and would only go through with an outrageously unlikely scoreline and combination of results. Though in the Results section below, you’ll see that Pop World Cup miracles do happen…

30
Mar 14

SPICE GIRLS – “Spice Up Your Life”

Popular88 comments

#775, 25th October 1997

spiceup The story writes itself: weeks of enforced grieving cast a grey spell across Britain that is broken – could only be broken – by the forces of Girl Power, in full returning cry. Pop is restored, joy is unconfined. And honestly the arrival of “Spice Up Your Life” did feel a bit like this. In just over a year the Spice Girls had become a touchstone in pop culture: Geri’s BRIT awards dress sealed that. There had been so many parodies, references and headlines that the group felt entirely familiar, looked on with the mix of fondness and complacency that gets people called “national treasures” in the long run. There would be a film, of course: nothing would seem more right and proper, except maybe the idea of their comeback single unseating Elton John and bringing the spark back to the charts. “Spice Up Your Life” enjoyed a tailwind of unusual goodwill.

27
Mar 14

This is no modern romance

Do You See18 comments

This is a review (sort of) of Captain America: The Winter Soldier. It is VERY FULL OF SPOILERS almost as much as it is full of FEELINGS. And it won’t make any sense if you haven’t seen it yet.

tws3

ELTON JOHN – “Candle In The Wind ’97″ / “Something About The Way You Look Tonight”

Popular141 comments

#774, 20th September 1997

citw Every Popular entry starts with the same question: why this record? This time it’s especially loud. “Candle In The Wind ‘97” is the highest-selling single of all time in the UK, almost 2 million clear of its nearest competitor. This is as big as pop gets. But “why?” might strike you as a silly question here, because its answer is so obvious: Diana, duh. So reframe it: why Diana?

The death of Princess Diana is recognisably a global news event, in the way we experience them now: the sudden in-rush of information into a new-made vacuum of speculation; the real-time grapple for meaning; and most of all the flood of public sentiment, deforming the story and becoming the story. It was also inescapable in a way nothing in my lifetime had been. But there are elements which feel very distant, and this single is one of them. It pushed the machineries of pop – literal ones, like CD presses and distribution fans, and metaphorical ones, like the charts – to their limits. HMV stores carried signs warning of a limit of 5 copies per person, and still sold out. There were reports of people buying 50 copies – for a shrine, perhaps, or just because CD singles had briefly become, like flowers and bears, part of a currency of devotion.