Posts from July 2009

Jul 09

It meant that you were a protest singer

FTPost a comment • 368 views

The music video for Sons Of Maxwell’s “United Breaks Guitars” has racked up almost 3.5 million hits in just over two weeks. You can’t buy the MP3 anywhere and it’s by a band you’ve almost certainly never heard of: to put this in some kind of perspective the current US number one, Black Eyed Peas’ “I Gotta Feeling”, is running at around two-and-a-half mil views.

The story behind the video is quite simple – the song outlines it very crisply. Band fly United Airlines – baggage handlers at O’Hare break their gear – after much ducking and weaving by the company they take their complaint to the web, with spectacular results (at least in terms of amplification).


Jul 09

Daily Mail Auto Article Generator Turned On

Do You See + FT11 comments • 858 views

We are not usually in the business of baiting the Daily Mail, but clearly everyone who works there are on holiday and someone has turned on the Daily Mail story generator today. For as Starry of this parish just tweeted, this item about Christopher Hart vs Lars Von Trier’s film Antichrist has it all: WHAT DOES IT TAKE FOR A FILM TO GET BANNED THESE DAYS? A few select quotes for you:

“As censors approve a movie that plumbs grotesque new depths of sexual explicitness and violence, one critic (who prides himself on being broad-minded) despairs…”

You do not need to see Lars von Trier’s Antichrist (which is released later this week) to know how revolting it is. I haven’t seen it myself, nor shall I – and I speak as a broad-minded arts critic,


Jul 09

Popular ’83

FT + Popular/146 comments • 7,542 views

Every Popular entry has a mark out of 10 – here’s where you get to choose which you’d have given 6 or above to (and make any general comments on the year in the comments boxes, of course). The highest 1983 mark I gave was 9, for Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean” (pre-death!). The lowest I gave was 3 apiece for UB40 and Rod Stewart.

Which Of These Number One Singles Of 1983 Would You Have Given 6 Or More To?

View Results

Poll closes: No Expiry

Loading ... Loading ...

Jul 09


FT + Popular48 comments • 10,451 views

#529, 10th December 1983, video

Aged ten I didn’t have much time for the wounded, crafted dignity of the Flying Pickets. I probably wouldn’t have had time for Yazoo either, if I’d even remembered them. “Only You” was distilled adulthood, and not the kind of adulthood you aspired to, the kind you couldn’t put a name to.


Jul 09

Hip Young Gunslingers

FT17 comments • 2,637 views

It might have been the death of Steven Wells, or the closure of VIBE, or just people having a tired old moan, but there’s been a lot of mulling over the state of music writing this last couple of weeks. It seemed to me that one obvious thing to do if you’re interested in this question might be to see where new music writers are coming from and what they’re getting up to.

In the grand tradition of getting other people to do my work for me I went to a couple of places and asked – who’s good under 25? Some people rightly pointed out you didn’t have to be under 25 to be a good new music writer. I agree, and I haven’t checked the ages of this lot. It’s also true that you can be under 25 and pretty well-seasoned: Jessica Popper has been blogging for well over 5 years; Matt LeMay (whose age I’m not sure of) is a Pitchfork vet and has a book out. Both were mentioned, but I figured “new” was a stretch in those cases.

Otherwise, everyone who was named – or named themselves! – is in. I trust my Twitter/Tumblr follows enough to feel they won’t sell me many pups. Some would have been on any list I made, some I’d never heard of! You may look at this lot and say “Music writing? Yup, it’s a goner”. You may find a few things to add to your RSS. I’m not going to editorialise – at least not until we’ve got through the names…


Jul 09

Second Time as Farce

Pumpkin Publog1 comment • 215 views

Those who have paid passing attention to the news over the last year may be familiar with the Global Economic Collapse™, Economic Downturn™, the Credit Crunch™ and all its associated lunch/brunch/munch tie-in offers. After all, there’s very little that can’t be turned to some profit, so you’d think that the liquor on-trade would cash in on this topical obsession with all things parsimonious.

Where is the bar boldly stepping into the breach which advertises itself to the passing crowds using huge photos of Bernie Madoff, Alistair Darling, Sir Fred Goodwin and other bêtes noires of the global financial meltdown? Surely we can order at a bar made out of cassette tapes, bottles of beer stacked haphazardly behind it in their bulk-purchase packaging? The walls, where they are left clear of teetering towers of alcoholic detritus, might feature a series of paintings of a smug Gordon Brown? There might even be an Ikea-bought wendy-house seating area upstairs complete with bean bags? And it will need a manifesto taped to the door.

Well, now, thanks to Vince Power, we get the bar we all deserve. Should we choose, that is, to venture into the anti-capitalist enclave of Notting Hill.

Local real estate agents’ posters at Ladbroke Grove tube station, nestled like the bar under the vastness of the Westway, tell us that “Yes! You can afford to live here!” There might as well be a poster saying we can afford to drink here, too, since prices for all drinks are set at £2.50. The place is hardly packed, but it’s a Tuesday evening and the volume of the music means everyone who is there is drinking outdoors. But we’re being made “aware of the political and economic situation of the day”; you can’t put a price on that. Though it was probably a fair amount. Bean bags are quite expensive, if you’ve ever thought they might make cheaper seating options.

It may lack irony in its striving after Dalston cool, but in its way it comes across as much a temporary art installation as the bar on the roof of a car-park in Peckham. No surprise, then, that students from the University of the Arts had some involvement. It’s called LiquidNation, but lose a single camel-case letter and you might get a sense where the future of the recession-themed drinking den lies.

Jul 09

Top That Bruno

Do You See + FTPost a comment • 351 views

Bruno, Sacha BARON Cohen’s new stab at outraging the entire world, suffers from the weight of expectation. Partially it was always going to have difficulty replicating the seemingly out of nowhere shock tactics of Borat, and lack the candidness of relative anonymity he had whilst making that. We get the schtick, so no matter what the subject (and you have never seen as many penises as this film has) it would always feel a little second hand.

But that is not the expectation problem I have specifically with Bruno. Seeing it in a hugely packed cinema, there was a buzz of anticipation in the room. The Universal logo came up, with an umlaut – this is one of those special movies where they get to mess with the studio logo. And in the background the gentle sounds of Nessaja drifted up.

Always lived my life alone,
Been searching for the place called home.
I know that I’ve been cold as ice,
Ignored the dreams, too many lies.

And I realised no matter how good this film was going to be (not bad being my ultimate assessment), it was never going to beat this moment.


Jul 09

Franklyn: Dodge It

FT4 comments • 552 views

Franklyn movie posterJust thinking about it saps me of any pleasant thoughts I might have stored up, but it’s important that I tell you, and that you understand, that you should never, on any account, see this movie.

Here are a few of the reasons why:

1. Much of it takes place in a “fantasy London” where people dress like steampunk superheroes. Not bad per se, but in this case it feels almost supernaturally clichéd, like a movie version of those Hovis bread commercials going back through time—the first five minutes chart every leadenly portentous “dark graphic novel” trope ever conceived.


Stop This Sid Nonsense Now!

FT/2 comments • 348 views

Has there ever been a person where the proportion between hagiography and actual talent been so disparate as there is with Sid Vicious? Attitude of punk perhaps but cack-handed bassing aside, he is known for spitting, swearing, drugging, dying and making John Lydon look like the reasonable man (we all knew he was deep down). Which is why post Sid And Nancy, the world is not clamouring for more Sid Vicious material. Especially not one where Sid (dead for fifteen years at the time) has a cosy fireside chat with Kurt Cobain before he kills himself. But huzzah because not only is Kurt And Sid starting in September, but they have got Danny Dyer to play Sid Vicious.


Jul 09

BILLY JOEL – “Uptown Girl”

FT + Popular77 comments • 7,218 views

#528, 5th November 1983, video

Billy Joel pays tribute to the music of his childhood, and so inevitably there’s something childish about “Uptown Girl”: its instant singability makes it sound like a Grease outtake, except there was more sex and chemistry in Grease’s flirtatious goofery. The street music – doo-wop and rock’n’roll – that “Uptown Girl” draws energy from was able to speak so powerfully to sexual and social codes partly because the act of addressing those codes head-on was itself a breach of them. There’s nothing at stake in “Uptown Girl” – how could there be? Rock and roll moved uptown long ago.