1 March 2013
Young Avengers 2, by Jamie McKelvie and Kieron Gillen (post will contain SPOILERS)
Let’s think about pop and parents for a moment.
Pop from the 50s on may have been about the generation gap, but it was rarely about the generation gap. Parents showed up occasionally as a force of denial, a brick wall, an elemental “no”, but from the start – “Yakety Yak”, say – they’re a figure of fun, too. Gradually they fade from the picture entirely – the dramas and crises, the lusts and dreams of pop are played out in a world emptied of parents. Parents become ever less threatening, more petty, more ludicrous. As the generations turn, they also become the people who failed – and were failed by – pop, fans themselves in some laughable old time, long gone. But now? Aw Mom you’re just jealous it’s the BEAS-TIE-BOYS.
And yet some trace element remains of real struggles, a genuine gap in which the Midwich Cuckoo boomers – hip to pop – faced a parental force whose own shaping experiences (wartime, the depression) were utterly alien. The unbending parental authority of the American 50s and 60s quickly passed into pop culture myth, so much so that it’s impossible for someone like me, born to post-hippie parents, to truly comprehend how real it might have been. But as a myth it lingers, pop’s chthonic enemy from pre-Beatles deep time, remembered in certain phrases or ritual gestures. more »
Tom in FT • 7 Comments
27 February 2013
1. Take a large number of individual tracks.
2. Put the first 64 into a playlist.
4. Play (no skipping allowed).
5. After two tracks, decide – as quickly as you can – which of the two you want to hear again.
6. Delete the other.
7. Repeat until playlist is over. You will have 32 tracks left.
8. Shuffle again.
9. Play (no skipping allowed).
10. Using the process outlined in 5-7, go through the playlist until you have 16 tracks.
11. Add another 48 tracks to the playlist.
12. Repeat steps from 3.
This is – mostly – how I’ve been listening to music for the last month or so. more »
Tom in FT • 7 Comments
23 February 2013
I asked a question on Twitter last night – what songs have actually scared you? – and it got a whole bunch of interesting replies.
So here they are. I haven’t gone through hunting YouTube/Spotify links because I was too
lazy terrified. more »
Tom in FT • 11 Comments
11 February 2013
The death that shocked me most that Spring wasn’t Kurt Cobain, or even Ayrton Senna. It was the passing of an owlish man in his 50s who people assumed – and hoped, in many cases – would be running the country before too long. Later on, John Smith’s heart attack became a locus for all sorts of counterfactual speculation – after the landslide of ’97 you heard people saying, well, tragic of course, you understand, but as things turned out not all for the bad…? And later – as the golden era of the Great Empathiser sank into a miasma of gossip, inertia and war – the wondering and what ifs turned sad and angry.
At the time – and since, really – what hit me was a sense of unfairness, based mainly on how hard Smith and his colleagues had worked. Also – and this didn’t last, at least not in this form – an irrational gloom, the feeling that things would never change, and that somehow the moribund, comical Tories would pull through again.
But then everything did seem to change, and quickly, with the facts of politics shifting last of all. more »
Tom in Popular • 41 Comments
15 January 2013
(While I am in slow recovery from virus mode, here’s an article from the Tumblr vaults.)
I have been listening to the Village People’s discography recently. Village People albums may not have seemed especially good value for money, because they are all very short. But! While lesser bands might have wasted their time and yours on things like “experimentation” or “developing their sound”, every single track on the first few Village People albums sounds EXACTLY like the Village People.
That doesn’t mean the Village People can’t surprise you! On their second album there is the valuable Biblical history lesson “Sodom And Gomorrah”, for instance. “GIVE ME! JUST FIFTEEN GOOD MEN!” bellow the VPs. There is nothing quite as striking on Cruisin’ but it does have YMCA on it. If you were going to make an equation for Village People song quality it would be something like:
Q = Y
Where Q is the quality score and Y is the extent to which the song sounds like “YMCA”. So by critical science we deduce that “YMCA” itself must be of the highest possible quality, and so it is. more »
Tom in FT • No Comments
9 January 2013
10 December 2012
When Was The X-Factor’s Imperial Phase?
I got bored with the recent series of the X-Factor, and I was not alone: the ratings this year have crashed by a few million. The post-mortems are beginning: the editor of the Radio Times wasted no time in crediting the Olympics and its awakening of a public desire for real heroes who train and sweat and ACHIEVE and BELIEVE. Stage school is no picnic, honey, you might reply – but the claim debunks itself anyway. The ratings crash this year is no one-off – it’s now a trend, after an even more dramatic tumble in 2011, a year with no whiff of gold. more »
Tom in FT • 42 Comments
21 October 2012
X-Factor 2012 Live Shows, Week 3
“Club Classics” week – but what could this mean, in the land of the X-Factor? If you guessed maximum rave alert, go to the back of the class. If, however, you guessed ballads and acoustic guitars, you win, and your prize is the approval of BARLOW, whose benedictions this week were in exact proportion to how unlikely you were ever to hear the music in an actual club.
We’re still in the “shaking out the no-hopers” phase of the proceedings here: it doesn’t, in the show’s narrative, matter in which order District3, MK1, Christopher, Rylan et al get the push, but drama there must be and so drama there will be.
To the disco! more »
Tom in FT • 5 Comments
7 October 2012
X-Factor 2012 Live Shows, Week 1
Last year I managed only two weeks of this before the faffery and tedium of the AGE OF BARLOW drove me away. So let’s see what happens this time. As usual I haven’t watched a second of the auditions, judges’ houses, etc – this is my first encounter with all the contestants.
The narrative around the X-Factor this year is one of decline – the show’s losing viewers, the format (apparently) feels tired. Also, while it’s the biggest entertainment TV draw in the UK just about, like Premiership football it took a bit of a moral hiding this year from sanctimonious Olympics-inspired columnists, keen to elevate people who run and jump over people who sing and dance. (Big secret: you can like both). Against the Real Role Models Of Sport the show ranges its usual parade of worthies and wasters – perhaps fewer of the latter this time, though. It also converts “Heroes Week” into “Heroes Week (Inspired By The Olympics)” though nobody does “Bonkers” so it’s no Olympics *I* remember.
So what happened? more »
Tom in FT • 11 Comments
1 October 2012
It’s time for my quarterly listen to THE UK TOP 40. Actually it was time a week or so ago but I didn’t write it up until a plane journey yesterday. So this is the Top 40 from 2 weeks ago (when our New Gangnam Overlords had only just entered at #37). As before, tracks are listed from best to worst order. No appeals allowed!
I think the number of records I liked is around the same this time as 3 months ago, but the chart feels more interesting – the grip of EDM is loosening, and it’s one of those charts which has a sense of nobody quite knowing where to go next or what’s going to work. Some of the variety is post-Olympics hang-abouts, though. Over to the countdown: more »
Tom in FT • 12 Comments