Posts from 14th August 2006

Aug 06

CLIFF RICHARD – “Congratulations”

FT + Popular24 comments • 4,733 views

#248, 13th April 1968

Rare is the Eurovision winning country that doesn’t play safe on the follow-up. “Puppet On A String” had given Britain its first victory, and “Congratulations” keeps things unflinchingly upbeat. (It pulled in a very close second on the night). The pull of “Puppet”‘s strings actually harm “Congratulations” as a record, though. The body of the song trundles along agreeably on a rhythm track straight out of Cliff’s beat group days, but the trilling orchestral flourishes – more typically Eurovision, and successful for Sandie – don’t really mesh with it. They seem fancy and intrusive, and the arranger loses me completely for the big slowdown behind the final chorus. Cliff does a professional job though, even on the somewhat obnoxious chorus that the song is remembered for. His Eurovision experience was obviously a happy one, as he had another go five years later, and the appearances cemented his position as a family favourite and helped extend his career to remarkable length.

The adventure of links

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I have just been updating the links page on our work intranet. It was an exciting trip down memory lane, as nobody had bothered to look at it in several years. How many? Well, put it this way: the list of “useful search engines” was headed by Altavista and didn’t mention Google. The links list was characterised by a charming naivety – “BBC News – – good for news.” and so on. Most of it was a fairly pointless undertaking in this vein – we’re all more web-literate now and don’t need hand-holding.


Lily Allen vs the world part 3487

FT26 comments • 1,968 views

Apparently Alesha Harvey disapproves of Lily Allen’s bitching of other pop stars. But Alesha’s attitude may itself be a far bigger problem – this seemingly programmed attitude of goodwill to all (other pop stars regardless of their flaws) and reluctance to offend that makes the pop world a greyer place in the long run. Regardless of the quality of Allen’s own music and stardom, her decision to let people know exactly what she thinks of such-and-such is surely a refreshing tactic (if it can even be construed as such) that should perhaps even be encouraged among others in the game.

That said, the issue is clouded by Allen’s opinions being hardly radical and a whole-lotta-rockist, plus her reputation of being maybe a little TOO obnoxious in the flesh (like father like daughter). ‘Madonna should put it away now she’s had a couple of kids’ and ‘Kylie playing Glastonbury is a betrayal of the festival’s original values’ are stalwarts of boorish curmudgeons thrice Lily’s age and if she is to take a leaf out of Alesha’s book it should be more of the ‘spice up the music more than anything else’ ilk rather than the stifling ‘if you can’t say something nice (bland) don’t say anything at all’ variety. Unfortunately I suspect you’re more likely to hear Alesha heaping praise upon the likes of James Morrison than MIA, because of her own disappointing tendency to tow the line and say what’s best for sales. It is a classic case of getting the balance right that neither have quite nailed yet.

Is Nacho Libre Racist?

FT15 comments • 19,682 views

Jack Black in a triumph of naturlistic acting YES: Jack Black does a ridiculous Mexican accent.

NO: This is pretty much the premise. All the other actors are Mexican’s with varying accents. Calling the film racist because one character has a silly accent would be to condemn Peter Sellars in The Pink Panther, not to mention Steve Martin or Alan Arkin*.

YES: The film portrays Mexico as a poverty stricken, almost third world country – at odds with the actual reality.