Posts from 10th April 2002

Apr 02

I’ve now sent all the e-mails out

New York London Paris MunichPost a comment • 228 views

I’ve now sent all the e-mails out giving details of the match-ups for the second part of 102 Beats That, this year’s FT Birthday Special. If you sent me an entry and you haven’t got one then either:

i) I never got it – please resend it.

ii) I got it and lost it – I’ve combed my inboxes carefully so hopefully this hasn’t happened.

iii) I have your entry but the e-mail address you gave doesn’t work. This so far applies to Alex in Mainhattan, Cabbage, and powertonevolume – can you give me working e-mails, thanks!

The next step is to start putting the entries online. Contrary to what it says in the e-mail I won’t be putting them up in bulk, I’ll be staggering them in small batches over the next week or two, so as not to overwhelm you with reading matter all at once. The return bouts will go up all at once, in the last week of June. Thanks to everyone who’s taken part!

DUEL 2002! Round 1 Match 16

New York London Paris Munich1 comment • 268 views

DUEL 2002! Round 1 Match 16

Duel! 2002 Round 1 Match 16

Which of these bands is worse?
Blink 182

View current results
View message board

Starry Says:
‘Blink “And You’ll Miss Them” 182 and Wheatus are in a poor final Duel here. The luck of the draw wasn’t on their side in the original draw as both deserve an early return to the bar, but one of them must go through… so FITE!

Blink 182 are short silly Americans with a puerile sense of humour. In America, this is called ‘punk rock’. To me it is called a load of bally nonsense. In their video for ‘all the small things’ they hired some midgets and they ran about town. THIS IS BECAUSE I WAS CHASING THEM BRANDISHING A LARGE OVERSIZED HAM. The difference between them and Sum 41 is that the sum of 41 is well, self explanatory and if you blink 182 times in a row you might get some kind of strange kooky hallucinogenic effect which makes them okay in my book. Actually, that video might have been for ‘What’s My Age Again’, showing that their numerological skills certainly aint present in their long term memory.

Wheatus sound like a breakfast cereal but instead of being a sugary treet are in fact a right DOGS DINNER (see what I did there)? ‘Wannabe Gangstar’ in which Lead Singer Mr Wheatus dresses up like Jay Kay failed to deliver on the beautiful quivering pubescent dream promises of ‘Teenage Dirtbag’ in a way that should have Blink 182 chasing after them with big sticks. In the end the Blink have made more fantastic power pop anthems as compared to dorky old Wheatus who just can’t keep it up. Send them to the bar for a shandy and let’s see how Blink compare to the 2nd round contendaz.’

YESTERDAY’S RESULTS — Nickelback 83% – PRML SCRM 17%

Lor luv a duck are Nickelback unpopular OR WHAT? A colossal victory puts them through to the second round as high-ranking seeds, all on the basis of one grungey gruntathon. All you Americans who voted for them just remember that ten years ago YOU LOVED THIS STUFF.

‘Forget what I’ve said about those other bands:


This is the simple honest truth, words simply fail me otherwise.’

‘Nickelback will be gone in a month or two, whereas PRML SCRM’s sadness goes on and on and on. Don’t give them the satisfaction!’

‘Having never heard Nickelback, I should in all honesty vote for Primal Scream who have in all fairness released some criminally bad record. That said, the descriptions I have received of Nickelback paint the picture of one of the single most awful musical entities ever to have committed to disc. One person even claimed that it was about a hundred times worse than Train which is so horribly damning that I cannot vote for a band who despite making some terrible shite also have a couple of tracks which I gig. My vote must go to Nickelback.’

‘The battle of the tribute bands. Pearl Jam v Rolling Stones. So many identikit Pearl Jam bands, why pick on this one? No, I choose the rubbish band coasting forever on the talent of one producer, who bless him, managed to make a silk purse from the sow’s ear that is screamadelica.’

‘NICKELBACK STINKS. I mean, prml scrm stinks too, but NICKELBACK STINKS about as much as you’d think a 10th generation grunge rip-off would. Which is REALLY STINKY.’

‘Hey you know what? I’m not gonna condemn a band after one “it’s okay, a bit grunge-lite, is that chris cornell singing?” song! I will vote for Primal Scream, they’ve never done anything I’ve liked!’

‘On behalf of the citizens of Western Canada who know good music when they hear it, I apologize to the rest of the world for the sensitive-guys-with-beards dreck that Nickelback has been bombarding the airwaves with. Ugh, that music’s just awful.’

‘my head says Nickelback, but my heart knows we’ll be hearing more (and worse) from gillespie.’

‘bobby gillespie is the most unintentionally hilarious man in music, but anyone voting for Primal Scream has clearly never heard Nickelback. They ARE TRULY AND UTTERLY EVIL.’

‘Never heard of Nickelback. The Scream Team, on the other hand, is a fantastic machine I deeply love. I get my rocks off totally unironically. Easy match.’

‘KLL LL HPPS, which would include Nickelback. Rock is the new Shite.’

‘Nickleback. Far as I know, they don’t ever use the J- or the C- word, but Within the first ten seconds of “You Remind Me”, the wise man/poor man/blind man trope immediately signals to anyone who’s been paying attention that someone in the band once had a serious engagement with the parables of JC, and maybe still do. Further evidence comes only seconds later with the line “this is how you remind me of what I really am,” where the personal authenticity of grunge turns all Christian Metaphysicky. How gross.

Say what you will ’bout “SWSTK YS” — those beeps are damn sexy.’

‘For a band with only ONE song to beat a band as consistently terrible as Primal Scream, it would have to be utterly awful, wouldn’t it? “How You Remind Me” is easily offensive enough.’

‘When you come from the home town of a band and that home town is backwards and that band is hot usualy there is creaming of the jeans , in edmonton nada – hence they are shit- you could of ocurse just look at the music whcih is a xerox of creed but w/o jesus’


‘Permal Scrum doggedly eschew vowels. Dicklecack should have their bowels chewed out by dogs.’

True story.

Pumpkin PublogPost a comment • 228 views

True story. Once upon a time there was a racecourse in Alexandra Park, a horseshoe shaped one just down the hill from the Palace. It shut in the late fifties, when gambling was not quite as popular as now – these days the nearest tracks are all outside the M25. It was this racetrack though which gave the pub The Starting Gate its name – and it is that name which The Gate has now stripped down to a meaningless set of two words in its attempt to aim at the nebulous 25-35 cool, bar chic.

After leaving the depressing environs of The Phoenix I had hoped to reacquaint myself with the Starting Gate. Not that The Starting Gate had been a particularly good pub, it just did the basic pub stuff properly in addition to having a very nice original central bar (snob screens ahoy). So the renaming and in appropriate font which greated us was cause for alarm. The low tables, church seats and uncomfortable poufesque cubes which we presumed were for sitting was equally worrying. The place at least had some draught lagers on though so it was three pints and a glass of tap water (nicely appointed with ice and lime). Admittedly the pumps for the lager had that All Bar One anonymity – but the beer was two quid a pint which was welcome.

So The Gate was now halfway between being a bar and a gourmet pizza gastropub (woodfired pizza oven, not that anyone was eating). At least the conversion had been done with sensitivity. For which read the bar and lovely plate windows had been left alone and just a few light backlight wall panels and the unfortunate seating had been put in. Round the back a bunch of lads were watching the rugby, whilst round the front were a bunch of drunken old people who possibly the refit had been designed to dissuade who were not taking the hint.

I don’t know what the local denizens think of the place now. It certainly wasn’t packed and the music policy seemed a little bit out of whack with its pretensions (this is the noughties – we don’t listen to Sting any more). Still in a world of poor bar makeovers the fact that this was so half arsed suggests to me that it may all revert to type in ten years. As long as they keep the intriguing ‘Bowl Of Sweets’ on the menu as a bar snack it should be fine.

POP-EYE 7/4/02

New York London Paris MunichPost a comment • 259 views

POP-EYE 7/4/02

It’s sad but true: Pop Idol makes Pop-Eye idle. Gareth Gates is at number one for a third week, and Will Young was at Number One for three weeks before that. I believe Zoe has a record out in a couple of weeks, a big-band version of ‘Get Happy!’. Oh, and Darius has just signed a million-pound contract. Gripping stuff you’ll agree. What can we say about it?

Well, first of all we can say that Pop Idol was good TV — most reality TV is. But this show was a little different, specifically designed to have a long-term afterlife outside TV, and it’s succeeded to a degree the programme’s producers probably didn’t anticipate. The result is a colonization of the charts by TV, the Top 40 co-opted into an ongoing television event — which is great for ITV but maybe less great for pop.

It’s not the only such blurring of lines going on, of course — as media ownership gets more centralized and international the trend is towards ‘entertainment’ as a single information flow — a celebrity is an ‘Idol’ first and a ‘musician’ or ‘actor’ second, and anything they do, films-TV-music-books-websites, is part of one big glamourous story.

In a sense this is turning the clock back to the days of the ‘all-round entertainer’, and you get a similar sense of regression when you hear the Pop Idol songs — Proper Songwriting designed to show off Proper Voices. ‘Unchained Melody’ and ‘Get Happy!’ are great songs, of course (and ‘Evergreen’ while a bit forgettable isn’t as weak as you might think) but these versions seem inert to me — not bad, not good, just irrelevant. The content, the quality, of ‘Unchained Melody’ matters as little as whether the picture of the queen on a pound coin is aesthetically pleasing.

What’s this? NYLPM complaining that pop is all about money? Not quite. The thing about currency is that its value is symbolic — a society agrees that a lump of metal means something and allows access to something — and similar things happen when pop becomes part of the entertainment-flow. A copy of ‘Unchained Melody’ is a pass-key into the Gareth Gates Story, the Pop Idol Story, a chance to make the fun last a few weeks longer. (and people hoard these singles, buy multiple copies, as if they were currency.)

Isn’t that how Britney Spears (in at no.2 this week with her worst single ever) works too, though? Not exactly — Britney has her celebrity story but it’s much more bound up in the music, not because she has any more control over it but because the image of Britney and the images conjured by the music speak to each other so intriguingly. Some pundits have said that when Britney does come out as a non-virgin, it’s game over, and I half-agree: she’s allowed far too much emphasis to be put on the virginity thing and by putting out nudge-wink records like ‘Not A Girl, Not Yet A Woman’ she’s pushing that narrative along.

Actually though Britney’s a bit of an exception, in that she’s a pop star who does let her image interconnect with her records. The celebrity and the music of most pop stars run along parallel tracks — you can consume one without caring about the other. The Pop Idol boys and girls are different because there’s no need to make the music interesting — there’s only the celebrity to care about and the records are inevitable by-products of it. Britney Spears would not have been famous if people had not bought her record. Gareth Gates was famous anyway, because he was going to release a record — yes he then had to do so, but that’s irrelevant to his fame. (So of course the record he did release is the ultimate ‘safe bet’ choice.)

Other records came out this week but I don’t feel like writing about them (they’re none of them very good, for one thing) because the Pop Idol winners pose more interesting and more worrying — if not exactly new – questions. The main one being — what if modern pop music, the whole fifty-year history of it, was just a late twentieth-century bubble, a technological and cultural fluke? Modern pop not as in the music being made — which will keep on being made — but as something partly separate from the rest of the entertainment industry, with its own prophets, heroes, factions and arguments. Vague doomsaying? Probably, but with Gates’ mates potentially swapping the No.1 position for the rest of the year optimism is in short supply.


I Hate Music2 comments • 1,672 views

Ah – the east. The mysteries of old China, the lure of exotic spices, the charms of the orient. Or alternatively my old china, smelling of Old Spice and supporting the charming Leyton Orient – why if it isn’t those charming young chaps East 17. Sorry, you’re right. It isn’t those charming young chaps East 17 because there is certainly nothing charming about the borstal rejects that made up this postcode named band.

Many bands have a clearly demarked set of ranking between individual roles of the members. In the Beatles this split nicely between instruments, whereas in Queen even the songwriting was equally well spread (imagine finding four songwriters that poor). In East 17 the roles were likewise split: Tony Mortimer wrote the songs and sang most of them, Brian Harvey sung the rest and was in charge of moronic comments, whilst the other two were in charge of dancing and looking very, very ugly. There was a time in this country when East 17 were the second biggest pin-up band in the country, which is remarkable when you looked at how genuinely unattractive they were. I suppose there is a possibility that some people liked Tony Mortimer’s rough boy looks, or Brian Harvey’s puppy fat face. But the other two, who had no role at all in the band, surely they were only allowed in so they could earn enough to get reconstructive surgery. To look like proper orang-utans.

Even if Tony Mortimer was not as ugly as his band mates his ugly tunes more than made up for it. Their breakthrough hit House Of Love is only notable for being a bigger hit than House Of Love by the House Of Love. On top of the pops their gimmick was that Mortimer played his keyboard on an ironing board. Ironic now since he runs a laundry out in East Ham. The band had an amusing logo of a dog – possibly related to the dog track in their native Walthamstow. There are further canine connections of course, if you bought their first album you would certainly feel like you had been sold a pup. This album also contained Deep – a deeply funny song about sex quite clearly made by people who had never had sex. It was all about getting down deep and mucky – but the song merely promoted a deep sense of nausea.

Later songs which played with being risqué included Steam – a song which had all the sexual suggestiveness of inhaling a bowl of Friars Balsam. ‘Outside its raining but inside its wet’ the lyrics went. I suggest you shut your window then.

East 17 were truly despicable – and the band name was probably used just so they could be given directions home the morning after. The only number one ver 17 ever had was the sickly sweet ‘Stay Another Day’ – a cynical little number Mortimer penned about his brother who topped himself. Was he sharing a room while Mortimer was songwriting? Unfortunately soon after the band decided not to stay another day – about a day after Harvey admitted to regularly necking eight or ten ecstacy tablets a night. This bravado not only showed how stupid Harvey was – but also that he plainly had never taken a drug in his life. Unlike his girlfriend Daniella Westbrook who took a lot of cocaine, and from recent tabloid photos was also taken by Harvey – up the nose.