Avengers NOW! and Marvel in the 2010s
Marvel Comics’ announcement that its new Thor is going to be a woman has attracted plenty of froth and comment – especially since it turned out that this was part of a general refreshment of their core titles under the Avengers NOW! banner brand. Captain America is to be replaced by long-standing partner The Falcon (who happens to be a black guy), and Iron Man is going to become a dick (they may have trouble presenting this as a radical change).
There have been a range of responses. Superhero comics are built on the “illusion of change”, but apparently have the most reliably troll-able audience in media history, so some people are upset at the idea of a status quo change. That it’s a status quo change away from a white guy in two cases – and those two cases are the ones drawing all the heat, nobody is saying “I love Tony Stark! How dare they make him even more of a jerk” – is not coincidental to the level of rage.
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“Because We Want To” worked by leaning on Billie Piper’s energy and nascent dramatic flair rather than her singing. For “Girlfriend” her voice is more central, which is a problem – it’s a mushy, gobstopper-mouthed instrument, prone to sliding words together so that every line sounds shrugged through. It makes “Girlfriend”’s chorus – Billie asking a guy out – sound really grudging and reluctant. The awkwardness doesn’t end with the vocals, either – like Peter Andre’s hits, “Girlfriend” is professional songwriters trying for cool and ending up with a supermarket own-brand version of R&B, clumpy and thin.
Once upon a time there was a whimsical, backward-facing tendency in British life, with a habit of surfacing just as things were at their shiniest. The Beatles released Sgt Peppers, for instance, and the world proclaimed a revolution: but some took a subtler view. George Melly, a man with an interest in fashion, the texture and the cut of things, noticed right away how old Pepperland looked. The cavalry twill, the black-and-white photos, the circus posters, the childrens’ drawings – this was as much retreat as advance. The golden youth of Britain reached back into playful memory, storing up an attic chest of precious bygones against a rupture they had helped begin.
The Beatles weren’t alone – its childish streak is the first thing anyone notices about UK psychedelia. But if childhood could be appropriated by the hippies, the process could work in reverse. Primary school pop, thirty years later, could assume the grown-ups weren’t listening and borrow a few of the sixties’ better ideas.
On the 18th June 2014, I took to the stage (a very small stage, but a stage nonetheless) as part of Geek Show Off to publicly declare my love for all things wrestling. I could have talked for nine minutes on so many aspects of grappling but focussed my attention on another passion of mine: Andy Kaufman. So, here’s what I had to say before a sold out London crowd: 28th July 1982 changed professional wrestling forever. That was the day that the undisputed Intergender Wrestling Champion, Andy Kaufman, laid in to the undisputed babyface of the Memphis territory, Jerry ‘The King’ Lawler, on nationwide American television. ‘The Late Show with David Letterman’ was drawing 10-15 million viewers in its early years so this was the biggest single event to happen in the world of professional wrestling since 1976 when Muhammed Ali fought Japanese wrestler Antonio Inoki in Tokyo – but that’s a whole other story. However, it seems we’ve joined this tale mid-way. Let’s go back to the beginning.
This ought to be something special: the most outspoken member of the biggest group in pop teams up with the most exciting new female MC for years. Instead, the first solo Spice No.1 finds Missy Elliott barely in attendance and Mel B flailing as she tries to carry a song that plays entirely to her weaknesses.
One issue – and it’s the one that seems to sum “I Want You Back”’s puffing mediocrity up – is that Mel B is a fairly woeful rapper. The opening minute is like an excruciating pro-celebrity golf match, with Mel and Missy trading rhymes and Mel struggling to find any variety or charisma against even the most softball lines from her bored-sounding co-star. “How can you ‘beep beep’ with no keys?” indeed.
ENGLAND are the winners of the Pop World Cup 2014. Congratulations to manager Ronald and the team: Disclosure, Natalia Kills, Mutya Keisha Siobhan, AlunaGeorge, Years & Years, Foals, and Katy B and Jessie Ware.
Nigeria (managed by Cis) are runners-up, and Chile (managed by lartsaegis) take third place.
The GOLDEN MIC for the highest-scoring individual track (pitch invasions disqualified) goes to Japan’s BiS, for “Stupig”.
The GOLDEN MIXER for the highest-scoring team (best average scores across matches played) goes to South Korea.
Nominations for Team of the Tournament are open in the comments box.
Its usage in the pinnacle of BBC light entertainment aside – what a record this is! The drum intro is played on the side of a rusty water tank. The noisy brass squawks like Pingu angrily trying to shoo geese off his lawn. The piano is straight out of a Chas’n’Dave pub knees-up, and the end of each chorus line is punctuated by Cher Lloyd’s grandma (subs check this) going ‘Ugh!’ All Shaggy himself needs to do is drawl along for the ride: sleazy, cheesy – easy peasy!
The Levi’s advert that propelled this to #1 has stuck in the memory for many: our hero takes on Pingu’s claymation form, effortlessly pulling motorbike stunts to save the damsel in distress from a burning building. The animated city itself has a similar feel to the spoof-robot-noir of Dick Spanner, as does our greaser’s chiseled chin.
Even the visual jokes are there: the roast pigeons coming back to roost on the telegraph line are exactly as subtle than the giant illuminated “SAVE ELECTRICITY” sign in Spanner’s metropolis. The advert is only a minute long, but still manages to cram in a number of other gags that would have been edited out of Police Squad for being too obvious – a firehose full of holes, a firefighter toasting a sausage on the flames, an oblivious nose-picking kid as one of the bystanders (which incldes someone wearing a Santa outfit for some reason?) and of course, finishing on a toilet joke.
The official video unfortunately contains none of these elements. Hence this can only be the third best song of all time! I wonder what could be at top spot?
At last! The anthems are sung, the teams are on the pitch, and the Macarena Stadium in Los Del Rio is about to play host to the greatest event in global pop, the Pop World Cup Final. Joining us are.. YOU, in the comment(ary) box and the voting poll – below the cut – and our finalists, England – managed by Ronald, and Nigeria – managed by Cis. Nigeria are the defending champions, England the sleeping giants who may finally have awoken. Only you can decide the outcome.
Below the cut are our two songs and managerial comments, as well as the all-important poll. The match will end on Sunday evening, exactly as that other World Cup final kicks off. Well done both sides for getting here, and may the best team win.
SPOILERS AHEAD! A glimpse now into Popular’s gleaming but dystopian future, i.e. the first half of 2014′s number ones, ranked from best to worst based on how much I liked them when I played them just now. No marks, obviously, but consider this a hostage to future fortune. Assuming I get that far. But how could I not with so many bittersweet deep house tracks to write about?
1. DUKE DUMONT – “I Got U (Radio Edit)”: My favourite iteration of the year’s signature sound – wonderful poise in the vocal (#Justice4KelliLeigh!) and the backing is gorgeous. Why isn’t all pop like this right now OH WAIT HOLD ON