Tom Ewing

16
Jan 22

2021: Grandson Of Poll!!

New York London Paris Munich/1 comment • 112 views

Writing this proved to be an extremely slow process for all sorts of tedious reasons, but here are my notes on DAY 3 of the 2021 poll. Now long since completed but you can listen along on YouTube here – some true greats in this stretch.

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8
Jan 22

2021: Son Of Poll!

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Thanks to getting Covid (again!) I’ve made only slow progress on the poll track write-ups – in fact I only finished this selection after all the matches ended (oops). YouTube playlist here:

Here they are though!  more »

4
Jan 22

2021: The Poll!

FT + New York London Paris Munich/Post a comment • 240 views

Here are my listening notes/capsule reviews on the first day of this year’s round-up poll. If you want to take part the polls are here and there’s a link to the Spotify playlist too.

5 Discoveries from Day 1: more »

7
Sep 21

GARY JULES ft MICHAEL ANDREWS – “Mad World”

Popular25 comments • 3,086 views

#968, 27th December 2003

Mental illness and pop music are hardly strangers, but few bands made it as central to their work as Tears For Fears, named after a concept minted by experimental psychiatrist Arthur Janov, whose ideas ripple and echo throughout the group’s first two records. Tears For Fears were an unusually earnest band, and suffered for it critically, but their self-seriousness has worn well.

From another group the lyric of “Mad World” might land as just another glib dig at the squares; Curt Smith, though, sounds honestly perturbed. Madness, for TFF, is the primal topic – their songs are often an account of working through their own neuroses and buried pain. But that childhood pain isn’t unique to sensitive young synthpoppers – it infects the whole of society, contorting it into patterns of repression, routine and self-denial. Mad world isn’t just a description; it’s a diagnosis.

18
Aug 21

The World Cup Of Four Letter Words*

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*Four Letter Word Song Titles, that is.

As you all know I spend a lot of my pop time these days running elaborate Twitter tournaments.  These have a lot of matches and it can be tricky keeping track of what’s going on, so this is an experiment whereby I’ll link to all the polls that are running currently.

QUALIFYING ROUND: more »

26
Jul 21

OZZY AND KELLY OSBOURNE – “Changes”

Popular33 comments • 2,593 views

#967, 20th December 2003

From one reality TV hit to another – “Changes” wouldn’t have existed without The Osbournes, an everyday story of a loveably decayed rock star and his no-bullshit manager-wife. The show’s surface dynamics played into some hoary old stereotypes of calamitous husbands and hypercompetent wives, but it was still far more watchable than most celebrity vehicles.

24
Mar 21

WILL YOUNG – “Leave Right Now”

Popular15 comments • 3,086 views

#966, 6th December 2003

Eg White, the songwriter on “Leave Right Now”, had an intriguing half-career out in the far suburbs of British pop. His album as part of Eg And Alice, 24 Years Of Hunger, has quietly acquired cult status; it’s sophisticated but erratic. Like Daniel Bedingfield, White was a young songwriter trying on his inspirations for size (at one point there’s an unexpected but exciting stab at Remain In Light era David Byrne). Released into a world too earthy and raucous for it, it made no impression – I remember the cassette of it in Our Price sale after sale, forever ignored.

4
Dec 20

The Christmas We Get We Deserve

FT5 comments • 583 views

It was sometime this Summer that I decided to do a Christmas poll in December, which later expanded to include other Winter festivals.

I didn’t think the idea through because it was a long way off – and I also felt there was a real chance I wouldn’t run it: more »

1
Dec 20

WESTLIFE – “Mandy”

Popular11 comments • 3,146 views

#965, 26th November 2003

The tears are on their mind and nothing is rhyming. Sometime between previous single “Hey Whatever!” – a very non-Imperial number 4 – and this cover version, Brian McFadden decided it was time for the dream to end and handed in his notice. Sometimes when boys quit a band it’s a shock – a profitable enterprise cut cruelly short. But Westlife shedding a member felt like part of an ongoing process, a group winding gently down.

1
Nov 20

BUSTED – “Crashed The Wedding”

Popular12 comments • 2,614 views

#964, 22nd November 2003

“You Said No” was an uneven mix of Busted’s charms and their weaknesses; “Crashed The Wedding” is all upside. All of Busted’s singles so far have played like episodes in the band’s imaginary TV show – a vaguely naughty comedy story; a goofy sci-fi pastiche; a high school melodrama. “Crashed The Wedding” is more like the climax of the group’s first movie, the riotous denouement of a pop-punk rom-com. Though the ‘punk’ side is getting even more vestigial – this is scruffbag power-pop, and all the better for it.