Features

17
Jun 18

Pop World Cup 2018: Group A Match 1

New York London Paris Munich/17 comments • 1,065 views

It’s here! The opening game of the Pop World Cup finds the four teams of Group A raising the curtain on the tournament. Pop football veterans Russia and Uruguay meet two Arab states – Egypt and Saudi Arabia – with less of a record at this level. Who will prevail? You decide. Spotify playlist and YouTube links below the cut with the team talks – go listen and vote for your favourite TWO tracks.

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8
May 18

HIDDEN LANDSCAPES: THE PODCAST

Hidden Landscapes2 comments • 502 views

Eight episodes are now up: Hazel Southwell and Mark Sinker talking through the story of the UK music press from two very different angles (bcz I am old and she is not), to help start the conversation around my upcoming book.

pod 1: the pilot!
pod 2: uh merry memories of the nme!
pod 3: the ins and outs of PUNK ROCK
pod 4: underground overground what’s in between
pod 5: how do you cope when it’s not even pop
pod 6: the book!! and how the rock press ended up as the last guardian of the 60s underground
pod 7: writing about pop and making a living (hint: you can’t and never could)
pod 8: how the 60s teen-beat mags tackled LSD!

If you’re enjoying it, please subscribe to our PATREON, to help cover soundcloud costs and admin, and help us put aside the (roughly) fortnightly time to make it as good as we’d like it! Also please point people in our direction if you think they’d enjoy it. I’m also blogging there every week: essays now up on MORRISSEY and why his bigotry wasn’t seen sooner and challenged harder in the 80s, on the late TOM WOLFE, and how the music press ran with his ideas, how JOHN LENNON AND YOKO ONO‘s interaction with the radical political press of the early 70s fed into the end of rock and the start of post-punk, a fond memoir of the late PENNY REEL, and so on and so forth…

Plus here is the book (cover courtesy Savage Pencil of course)!

15
Aug 17

The Sound Barrier Podcast: 8: The Phantom Carriage & A Ghost Story

Do You See + Sound Barrier Podcast3 comments • 513 views

phantom carriage ghostie storySpooky happenings over on Silent London this week, where the Sound Barrier Podcast dabbles in the supernatural, otherworldly and ectoplasmic. Or rather, a pair of meditative films which use death, and the afterlife, to dwell on the nature of existence. But if that feels a little dry, don’t worry there are madmen axing down doors, car crashes, poltergeist activities and the most unpleasant TB vector in all of Sweden. In the modern corner we have David Lowery’s oddity A Ghost Story, wherein Casey Affleck stand under a sheet for about an hour and a half. And in the silent corner, the Victor Sjöström starring Victor Sjöström film The Phantom Carriage, a New Years Eve ghost story about redemption and repentance (finally). Who will win, the director of The Wind, or the director of Pete’s Dragon?

The Silent London Podcast can be listened to here on Silent London and it is also available on iTunes and Stitcher. The podcast is presented in association with SOAS radio by Pamela Hutchinson and Peter Baran.

10
Jul 17

SUGABABES – “Freak Like Me”

Popular32 comments • 8,125 views

#924, 4th May 2002

sugafreak At The Disco

A scene from Phonogram III: The Immaterial Girl, by Gillen, McKelvie and Wilson, published in 2015. It’s the early 00s, at a disco somewhere in the south of England. A group of people who love music so much it’s become their life and the tools of their craft – magic in the comic’s world; writing, DJing and blogging in ours – have been brought together to scheme and to dance. One of them is Seth Bingo, a skinny guy in a T-Shirt saying “Mutya Keisha Siobhan”. The final name is crossed out, with “Heidi” scrawled underneath. Bingo, affected but handsome in a gaunt sort of way, is talking to another thin white man, a morose husk of a creature called Indie Dave. “What is your take – “ Bingo asks – “on the Babes Of Suga?”.

“My real take?” asks Dave, “Or my ironic one?”. And so Seth Bingo lays him out with an uppercut, the art exploding in colour around the punch.

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3
Apr 17

The Sound Barrier Podcast: 1: The Lost World / The Lost City Of Z

Do You SeePost a comment • 691 views

sound barrier 1So for a while myself and Pamela Hutchinson, of Silent London fame have been talking about doing a more regular podcast. And while we love talking about silent films, we also like new films too. And so The Sound Barrier was born over a Campari Spritz or four, we take a new release and we contrast it with a silent antecedent. And we were extremely lucky with the release dates as just released was The Lost City Of Z, about Major Percy Fawcett’s hunt for a lost civilization in the Amazon. And this seemed to compare perfectly with The Lost World, based on Arthur Conan Doyle’s pulp, in which Professor Challenger (based partially on Percy Fawcett) searches for a lost plateau of ancient creatures. . We talk exploration, beards, special effects, not so special acting and we may even, for a bonus mention The Smurfs: The Lost Village.

You can listen to it here on Silent London:
https://silentlondon.co.uk/2017/04/02/sound-barrier-the-lost-city-of-z-the-lost-world/
Here on iTunes (usual give us a review plea to bump us up search function)

And any suggestions for future pairings let us know, or just come back in a fortnight for the next one. Enjoy.

11
Jan 16

Gnome Man’s Land

New York London Paris Munich118 comments • 7,190 views

I wrote a thing for here about David Bowie and how I felt about him and what he meant to me, but then Pitchfork kindly decided they wanted to run it, so it’s below. (Original title: He Could Be Dead, He Could Be Not, He Could Be You). And to any other good pieces I see, or that you want to point me to, or memorial threads.

My Pitchfork piece
Chris O’Leary’s Pushing Ahead Of The Dame memorial thread
Alfred Soto’s obituary, for Spin
Ann Powers ‘Reflections Of A Bowie Girl’ for NPR
Rory (of Popular)’s memorial post

Meanwhile this feels like it deserves more than an RIP on a Popular entry, so by all means use this thread too to post, comment about Bowie, list your favourite songs, fit him into your history or pop’s history. Whatever, really.

David Bowie: RIP

10
Mar 15

My Own Private Record Club*

FT110 comments • 5,164 views

boredoms vcn This is a post listing the records I’m listening to for my YEAR OF ROCKISM**, as outlined here (cut and pasted from Tumblr):

I’m going to listen to one album on a once-a-day basis for a week, a different one each week. Not in order to write about them or anything, unless I decide I want to. Just a minor attention-span workout, the listening equivalent of that “20 minutes of brisk exercise daily” or “5 a day” advice. I realised now I don’t review albums any more I’ve got out of that habit of intensive listening, except for Popular, which is done very much with writing as the aim. It would be healthy to get it back, I reckon.

The albums will mostly be a) stuff I already own that b) I know I like but c) have never really given the time they deserve. The listening cycle is Friday to Thursday, until such time as I miss a day, at which point it will shift currently Tuesday to Monday. Albums below:

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12
Nov 14

The UPDATED Secret History Of Band Aid

FT + New York London Paris Munich/14 comments • 9,135 views

The Secret History Of Band Aid

Everybody remembers Band Aid. And – despite everything – most people remember Band Aid 2. And now we have Band Aid 20 30. Which rather begs the question – why does nobody ever talk about Band Aids 3 to 29? Take a trip down memory lane as we remind you of the charity singles we all forgot.

Band Aid 3: Recorded in a secret corner of the Hacienda, “Baggy Aid” in 1990 melded social conscience with a wah-wah break and found Shaun Ryder offering to feed the starving his melons. That Line was sung by Bobby Gillespie, but nobody heard his reedy mewlings and the single flopped.

Band Aid 4: Top One Nice One! Altern8, Shaft, The Prodigy and many more superstars got together to give the classic tune a new boshing 90s sound – though it was B-Side “E For Ethiopia” that found favour with the DJ community. But a secret orbital party for famine relief was busted and the marketing juggernaut found itself turned back at a police roadblock.

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29
Sep 14

BRITNEY SPEARS – “…Baby One More Time”

Popular141 comments • 12,647 views

#817, 21st February 1999

bomt How was I supposed to know that something wasn’t right?

It was a gilded age: the commercial zenith of the music industry at the end of the 20th century. In America, its apex as a money-making force came in 1999 when – adjusted for inflation – $71 per head was spent on music, a small box set for every man, woman and child in the country. Other countries hit the summit a little later, but they hit it. Did the industry see a crisis coming? Certainly – the Digital Millennium Copyright Act passed in the USA weeks after “….Baby One More Time” was released. But the biz was surely overconfident, it had seen its way through busts before. In 1981, when Britney Jean Spears was born, the industry was financially stagnant, caught in a recession-hit decline after the unsustained mini-boom of disco. It climbed back thanks to technology, and kept climbing. CD revenues rose and rose, and the machine to ensure they would not stop rising grew slicker and faster: radio, TV, promoters, manufacturers, labels, press and retailers meshing ever more efficiently in the pursuit of getting people to take home silver discs. And here we are at the top of the growth charts: peak pop.

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27
Mar 14

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

Popular142 comments • 18,659 views

#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.

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