Featured Content

21
Nov 13

Manage A Team In The Pop World Cup 2014!

FT//44 comments • 3,638 views

fulecoSo here we are. The 32 qualifiers for the football World Cup have been decided, which means it’s time, once again, to get ready for the POP WORLD CUP.

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!

15
Sep 13

Ten Years In Ten Marks

Popular49 comments • 3,240 views

Ten years ago tomorrow, I started writing a review of Al Martino’s “Here In My Heart”. I’d never heard the first UK Number One, and thanks to P2P networks I had the chance. Somewhere between starting the blog entry and finishing it, I thought of reviewing all of them.

I had no idea how long it would take. That hasn’t changed: I still have no idea how long it will take. At the time, the No.1 was The Black Eyed Peas’ “Where Is The Love”, and we’ve had around 300 new ones since then. Unless the Official Charts Company dies before I do, the project is unfinishable – but I admit I’d imagined I’d have reached the present day before now. For a variety of reasons – job, family, fluctuating motivation, other things to write about – I haven’t managed that. Maybe by 2023!

Popular has been a terrific hobby. I started it when I was an established blogger but not a published journalist: I was feeling wrung out and underconfident, and wanted something I could write quickly and thoughtlessly, about songs nobody cared about: a reaction to the higher-powered, febrile blogosphere of the time, which was very focused on being up-to-date and expert. I wanted to be able to feel my ideas and opinions out, like I had when I started blogging.

The blog has now outlasted my part-time career as a music journalist, and probably played a big part in me getting those opportunities. I now think a lot more – sometimes too much – about each entry, but Popular is the most satisfying writing I do. I’m also conscious of the marvellous, entertaining, informative and – by web standards – fantastically good-natured comments each entry will attract – which also means I can leave stuff out, and zoom in on a particular feature or scrap of context if I want to. If I felt I had to be comprehensive I’d have given up long ago.

Thanks so much for reading, and commenting.

If not for the trick of putting a mark out of 10 at the end of each review, I would have far fewer readers. So here’s a Popular “highlights reel” centred on the marks, one entry/thread for each.

5
Jul 13

BLUR – “Country House”

FT + Popular181 comments • 7,829 views

#725, 26th August 1995

Blur-Country-House-54546 BOXING?

A “heavyweight battle”, the NME cover-billed it. And if “Country House” vs Oasis’ “Roll With It” was a title bout, the music press were desperate to play Frank Warren.

Perhaps they had most at stake. It was, in a way, their last great fight. Many other moments define Oasis. Blur are best remembered for different songs. Britpop itself? Well, this was the high tide – probably the main reason Oasis even count – and the rivalry became an ongoing, rather tiresome, pop storyline for years after. But even then the battle is just one of a scrapbook of memories: Britpop had to be a thing already for this tussle to even matter.

The press, though – this is the climax of its 80s and 90s story, its turn away from other music to keep the indie flame burning, and how it saw its favourites gradually win over first the radio establishment, then a wider public. And look – here they are! Top of the charts, ma! Whoever wins, we won, is the NME’s message, but in that final ridiculous week the story had outgrown them. After Britpop, readers dwindled, and no new story emerged: the price of ‘we won’ turned out to be that there wasn’t a “we” anymore.

1
Jul 13

I was a teenage dark elf priestess

FT17 comments • 4,085 views

This article by Laurie Penny on the pervasiveness and persuasiveness of the manic pixie dream girl trope is really good.

I’m the same age as Laurie Penny, so was plagued by the same cultural stuff as her- I don’t know if it’s just egocentrism for my own timeline but I feel like the 90s marked a real rise of the manic pixie. Britpop had a fair chunk of them, they appeared as outsider girls in offbeat, dry comedies. How quirky! Wow! A lady with a guitar and a fringe perhaps she is supah speshul and liking her will be a meaningful growth experience for me. Level up!

And that’s reductive of ladies with guitars and fringes, of course. Because they’re real, awesome people. But that’s not my reductivism, it’s the eighty millionth interview with Brody Dalle when in 2012 people are still fascinated by the idea of a woman in a rock band as something unusual or somehow defiantly implausible. Jesus wept.

One of the things I intensely dislike about some sorts of indie music is the way it creates this easy vision of crush-girl. Somethingsomething about her hair and how she probably won’t look at you but somethingsomething thought maybe she was deeper and more meaningful than the other girls [nb: that's because that's how a crush works, boys with guitars] and the worst thing about these basic, rolled-up character tropes is that they come with some implication that because manic pixie dream girls are special, all other girls, all these other people with their real people things are less. All those annoying real things are faded into a muddy background blur against the special, shiny limitedness of the trope.

28
Jun 13

Friday Poll Special – The Great Britpop Sorting Hat!

FT209 comments • 7,933 views

We are now firmly into the BRITPOP YEARS on Popular, oh yes, so it’s time to consider its musical legacy in the only language we truly understand, viz. a ticky-box poll.

We have selected 32 bands who someone, somewhere, might possibly have once described as Britpop. Tick all the ones you like and by science we will be able to finally, once and for all, define terms like “Britpop D-List” and “second divison Britpop”. Isn’t that a noble endeavour? I thought so.

Which of these Britpop bands were Any Good At All?

  • Pulp 70%
  • Blur 64%
  • Kenickie 53%
  • Suede 52%
  • Supergrass 48%
  • Elastica 47%
  • Super Furry Animals 44%
  • Ash 43%
  • The Divine Comedy 39%
  • Oasis 35%
  • Boo Radleys 30%
  • Lush 30%
  • Bluetones 28%
  • Catatonia 25%
  • Mansun 24%
  • Sleeper 24%
  • Black Grape 23%
  • Lightning Seeds 21%
  • Gene 21%
  • Longpigs 19%
  • Echobelly 18%
  • Shed Seven 16%
  • Space 14%
  • Ocean Colour Scene 14%
  • WELLER 14%
  • Kula Shaker 13%
  • Cast 11%
  • Menswear 11%
  • My Life Story 11%
  • Marion 8%
  • Seahorses 8%
  • Northern Uproar 3%

Total Voters: 1,496

Poll closes: No Expiry

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9
Jan 13

Pokémon X And Why

FT///3 comments • 1,771 views

GET UR FROAK ON

While most of my online acquaintances were geeking out today at the thought of a new David Bowie album, our house was far more excited by the announcement of new Pokémon games – Pokémon X and Pokémon Y, the first on Nintendo’s 3DS console(1). The announcement was made by the President of Nintendo himself, in a style not far off the Queen at Christmas.

pokemonxystarters

The announcement makes Pokémon creators Game Freak look canny – widely criticised for releasing this year’s games, Black 2 and White 2, on the older DS machine, the rapid follow-up of X and Y shows they’ve been simply holding off until they’ve got a game ready (and a high enough user base to make it worthwhile)(2). After all, if these games make their ship date it will end up that the gap between console release and first Pokémon game is pretty much identical for the DS as 3DS.

So, good business. But good games? The reviews for X and Y are likely to be very similar to the last few Pokémon games, because X and Y themselves are likely to be similar. In fact you could write them now: global franchise, remarkable longevity, but will these be the last, finally they’ve included ____ but a change to ____ is long overdue.

21
May 12

SAINT ETIENNE – “Popular”

Popular152 comments • 7,395 views

#1976, 21st May 2012

Huge weepy thanks to Bob, Pete and Sarah for immortalising us in song. And thanks to commenters past and present for making it worth immortalising.

10
Jan 12

The Freaky Trigger Reader’s Poll 2011: #10-#1

FT//35 comments • 2,151 views

Hi, I’m Lauryn Hill circa my breakthrough role in Sister Act 2: Back In The Habit, and it is a real pleasure to be able to present to you the top ten FreakyTrigger tracks of the year. When my mother told me I couldn’t join the choir run by a fake nun, I got really surly and pouted a lot – which some of you may recognise from my recent career. Later in the film I stepped up to the plate and delivered this inspirational, hip as 1993 could ever be, version of Joyful Joyful. But enough of my career highlights, back to the FreakyTrigger top ten of 2011.

Its a real privilege to reveal to you that this top ten is entirely female, so much so that I might be inspired, much like Whoopi Goldberg inspired me in Sister Act 2: Back In The Habit to make a comeback and win next year. I’ve got a soup tureen full of Grammy’s you know.

5
May 11

BRYAN ADAMS – “(Everything I Do) I Do It For You”

Popular144 comments • 9,430 views

#667, 13th July 1991

Sixteen Listens For Sixteen Weeks: An Everything I Do Liveblog

This song got to number one for 16 weeks, so I decided to play it 16 times in a row, writing as I went.

Play 1: And we’re off. I’ve honestly hardly heard this in the last twenty years so I don’t anticipate the full horror will strike me for a few plays. In case anyone doesn’t know why I’m doing this, “Everything I Do” – a soundtrack hit from Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves – holds the record for the longest consecutive run at Number One in the UK singles chart. At least one other record has come close, a few have threatened to, but this is still the champ. Sixteen weeks. Almost four months.

The record is – oh look, you know this, but anyway – it’s a power ballad, slower in fact than I remember. Very weighty. It levels up repeatedly, reaches a climax about two-thirds of the way through, then we have a lingering solo (which I didn’t remember at all and have really no desire to hear another fifteen times), a reprise of the pre-chorus and chorus, and that’s your lot.

Play 2: So on first go that wasn’t so bad! I was 18 when this song was around and I dare say a great deal less amenable to ballads in general and romantic ballads in particular. The song got to number one just after I’d left school – I was spending the summer listening to Bob Dylan and picking fruit for a pittance. “Sad Eyed Lady Of The Lowlands” – now there, I thought, was a love song. I suspect “Everything I Do” might have a rather wider appeal. (Ah – the solo again – now I’m noticing little moans from Bry on it, dear me.) Anyway I hardly noticed this being number one for its first few weeks and certainly bore it no ill will.

29
Oct 10

SINEAD O’CONNOR – “Nothing Compares 2 U”

FT + Popular163 comments • 7,941 views

#641, 3rd February 1990

Sinead O’Connor is one of the finest song interpreters not just because she thinks hard about the material and the feelings locked in it, but because she’s so good at placing songs into a situation. A great example of this is her version of “Chiquitita”, warm and homely where ABBA’s is melodramatic, replacing its theatrical flourishes with a cosy tick-tock rhythm like a parlour clock. In the video she makes you, the viewer-as-Chiquitita, a cup of tea and settles down for a chat, and it’s perfect: that’s exactly what her version feels like.