FT

11
Jul 14

The FT Top 100 Songs of All Time #3: Shaggy – Boombastic

FT1 comment • 183 views

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!

Damsel-rescue FAIL

Damsel-rescue FAIL

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.

She say I'm Mr Rrrrro...

She say I’m Mr Rrrrro…

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?

7
Jul 14

Popular Crystal Ball: 2014 – The Story So Far

FT9 comments • 915 views

timburr 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

5
Jul 14

Guess My Theory Part Workout

FTPost a comment • 63 views

25
Jun 14

narnian origins: imagined islands in the great green sea of gloom

FT6 comments • 1,053 views

zenoSometimes you’re reading a book for purely aimless diversion and it strikes you that someone — some book-burrowing Arne Saknussemm — was there before you. I can’t really claim that C.S. Lewis ever read Donald S.Johnson’s Phantom Islands of the Atlantic: the Legends of Seven Lands that Never Were (since he died some three decades before its 1994 publication), but I am morally certain he had visited some of Johnson’s sources, long before Johnson.

23
Jun 14

Game of Thrones S04E10: The Children

FT4 comments • 213 views

Well, friends – here we are at the end of the series. Most of the loose ends have been tied  up, and  I take back last week’s grumble regarding frustrating cliff-hangers. For the most part, I’ve been vastly impressed by the showrunners’ interpretation of A Song Of Ice And Fire, particularly their ability to condense hundreds of pages, axe dozens of characters, change fairly significant details and still remain totally loyal to the best parts of the plot. I still find this show highly problematic and wish some things had been done differently, but I don’t think it’s necessary or wise to flog a dead Dothraki horse. The Children provided resolution to the major story arcs, sent nearly everyone across their own personal Rubicons, and looked frigging impressive while doing so.

19
Jun 14

A Non-French-Speaker’s Guide to Watching The World Cup In Paris

FT//Post a comment • 165 views

Bonjour mes amis! With all the thrill of the Pop World Cup you may have missed that there’s actually another kind of World Cup happening at the moment, related to a sport called football! And whether like me you’re in Paris for work, or just fancy a holiday so you can yell at the screen Abroad rather than At Your Local, here is a non-French-speaking guide to watching the World Cup in Paris.

Whom to root for

(In descending order. For matches between teams on the list, go with the higher-ranked of the two.)

  1. France: Obviously.
  2. Algeria, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire: Or as they’re known here, “basically France from before”. (Is this true? Not in the slightest! Does this matter? Also not in the slightest!)
  3. Belgium, Switzerland: Automatic approval of anywhere else where French is an official language.
  4. The Netherlands: The French electorate may disapprove of Hollande but Parisians apparently love Holland (I have no idea why, possibly just Van Persie’s glorious header winning all our hearts).
  5. Whoever happens to be playing Germany at the time: You’re not the boss of Europe, Angela!!!

Where to watch

As the weather is nice and literally everywhere is showing la Coupe de Monde, every twenty feet or so you’ll find a tabac with a terrasse and wine for less than €3 a glass. Sit in a corner table with a good view of the screen and click your teeth when tall thin disaffected men with scarves and cigarettes stand in front of you to chat about, who knows, Sartre or Proust or something.

During halftime some locals may attempt to engage you in conversation. Look apologetic and struggle through a short conversation about what you think is team affiliation: “Oh, oui, Uruguay, oui!”. Later discover you have inadvertently claimed to be from Montevideo.

After the second half the locals may invite you to come along to their friend’s bar for the 12am England match, as the tabac is closing. Agree enthusiastically with a pleased air of international friendship and solidarity. Everyone will head outside and immediately all pile into a car, leaving you slightly nervous but unable to politely refuse due to previous enthusiasm. Wonder what the Parisian equivalent of Zone 5 is and whether you will soon find out. Feel relieved but extremely bemused when the driver goes 100 yards in a straight line and everyone hops out again.

At the second location there may be the opportunity to bet on the game behind the bar. Place €2 on England with the expectation of losing but the faint vague hope of making back enough for une verre du vin (€3.19). When you return from the bar, a bottle of rough house red will have appeared on the table, as well as birthday cake for one of the locals. Text a friend to ask if they want to come along: “at a bar somewhere in the 11th or poss 20th, on big road, blue door, looks closed but we’re in here!!” Friend somehow figures out which bar you mean and makes it inside; assume this is universal Parisian superpower.

Accidentally lock yourself in the toilets and emerge ten minutes later to the entire bar smirking at you. Mumble something stroppy about Lafayette and Washington and sit down.

At the end of the match, dramatically tear up your reçu de €2 and say: “Ugh, Rooney.” Everyone will nod in agreement and sympathy.

Try to think of any French players’ names to discuss and fail.

Say feelingly, “Poor Casillas.”

Everyone will nod.

Key vocabulary words and phrases

La balle: Ball

Un but/le gardien: Goal/goalkeeper

Le arbitre: Who is this idiot?

Le, uh, de Angleterre, you know, Monsieur Rooney: The England team

Larmes de Ronaldo: One of the most glorious sights of the tournament

Le prolongation: Overtime (or indeed regular time depending on how poorly your team is playing)

Ce un coup!: Holy shit, that was a beautiful shot!

Vraiment? (delivered witheringly): Stop rolling around like a prat, he barely touched you.

Xaviiiiiiii: Wail of dismay from Spain supporters (obsolete)

 

14
Jun 14

Game of Thrones S04E09: The Watchers of the Wall

FT2 comments • 136 views

It’s wall-to-wall Wall action this week, with Jon Snow ‘n’ Pals finally facing Mance Rayder’s United Army of Free Folk. There’s not actually a lot of story to tell (or recap) to be honest. It is, however, visually a stunning episode, reminiscent of S02E09’s “Blackwater”. On the plus side, it’s fast-paced and packed with fierce battling and derring-do, but on the bigger minus side, the cliff-hanger ending was beyond vexing in a way I can’t elaborate on without massive spoilers for possibly the last episode or maybe even next year. This is the crux of my beef: the Wall’s storyline has been moving glacially all season and even with an entire show dedicated to this story arc, where things happen loudly and bloodily, the end is unsatisfyingly vague and it’s just not good enough, dammit!

11
Jun 14

BOYZONE – “No Matter What”

FT + Popular49 comments • 2,942 views

#798, 15th August 1998

nmw “No Matter What” has an elevated position in Boyzone’s catalogue. It’s their big crossover hit, the one by songwriters of real mass-appeal pedigree – Andrew Lloyd Webber and Jim Steinman – and the only one to have done well in the USA. You might see it as Boyzone asking to be taken seriously, except it fits so well with the stately, windy ballads they were already making: this isn’t a stylistic change so much as a levelling up in songwriting competence. There’s an efficiency to the hook and a solidity to the structure here which you’d expect from two men made swinishly wealthy by their ability to pull out a show-stopping ballad.

7
Jun 14

Game of Thrones S04E08: The Mountain and the Viper

FT3 comments • 201 views

Aw jeeze, Lester! A beloved character dying is all part and parcel of GoT, and dying REALLY horribly is the doom cherry on the grimcake, I know this.  I also know there’s only more awfulness to come, but this week’s show made even the most hardened fan flee to the internet for support groups.  Whether you read the books or not, and even putting the Red Wedding aside – this episode smarted. It also felt frustratingly perfunctory at times.

24
May 14

Game of Thrones S04E07: Mockingbird

FT1 comment • 138 views

Ooh, it’s all going to kick off spectacularly and soon! This week is all about the build-up and the antici….pation. If only previous table-setting episodes had been like this – and I’m not just saying that because it was a Tyrion-heavy show, thought that certainly helped matters. The last three seasons have given us Big Moments for episode 9 but knowing what I know and based on Mockingbird, I think the last three might be packed with shriek-worthy, help-it’s-killing-me moments.