Thursday, 26 May 2011

The Record The World Was Waiting For

If at first you don't succeed, someone once said, try try again. It's an adage particularly appropriate to ropey diva Nicki French. Above is her 'Total Eclipse of the Heart 2011', a song that in its original form is so brilliantly bombastic that it is hard to improve upon. 'Eclipse 2011', it's safe to say, isn't an improvement.

Again, topping Bonnie Tyler is a challenge, so it would be harsh to chasten her for it, especially as this is a woman who has devoted her life to attempting to do so. Don't worry Nicki, you'll get there one day. 

NB: Obviously it would be doing Nicki French a great disservice to say that bellowing needless retellings of 'Total Eclipse of the Heart' is the only string to her bow. No, in 2000, she represented the UK at Eurovision with the Freudian 'Don't Play That Song Again', finishing 16th. Well done Nicki.

Friday, 20 May 2011

Guetta House: The New Landfill Indie

Take a look at this man. He is 43 years old (so his look is a bit 'give it a rest granddad') and is a music producer. His name is David Guetta and, unfortunately, he is responsible for the proliferation of a sound currently trundling towards pop music ubiquity.

The name of this sound is Guetta House. You will have heard it; it sounds like this, this and this. The first two tracks linked (Sexy Chick and Where Them Girls At) are Guetta productions and although they sound the same, aren't. The third (LMFAO's Party Rock Anthem) is not a Guetta production, but, along with the second, is currently in the UK Top 10, in addition to another Guetta single, Snoop Dogg's Wet/Sweat, a song that somehow manages to both make Snoop seem even more repulsive than previously imagined and suck all of the life out of Felix's Don't You Want Me in the space of just 3 short minutes.

This is obviously worrying. Although Guetta has been behind some very good records (Kelis' Acapella, When Love Takes Over with Kelly Rowland) his ratio of good to bad output is heavily weighted towards bad. Guetta House is not much fun and is rapidly becoming what Landfill Indie was to pop music a few years ago: a cheap and easy way to a surefire hit. It may be limp, lifeless and dull but get a ropey rapper on board and The Kids will lap it up.

The Landfill Indie bubble burst after about two and a half years, and chances are that the Guetta House one will too, if not more quickly. The problem is that at the moment it is in its ascendancy, and doesn't yet appear to be anywhere near its zenith, or perhaps more appropriately, nadir. Big American acts that would previously never have touched anything that comes under the 'dance' banner are champing at the bit to work with Guetta, Afrojack, Benny Benassi and suchlike and as a result Guetta House is quite literally 'taking over the airwaves'. It's safe to say that it's going to get worse before it gets better.

Saturday, 7 May 2011

The Apprentice Candidates As Songs 

The new series of The Apprentice doesn't start for another week, but details of this year's candidates have already been released.  As we all know, first impressions are everything, and it's very easy to judge Apprentice contestants given only their name, photo, a brief biography and a typically twattish quote.  With that in mind, what would Sirralan's latest bunch of business bastards be if they took the form of popular song?

Alex Britez Cabral

Alex is an estate agent from London and says "unpopularity is a good thing".  Which, coincidentally, is what all estate agents mutter to themselves at night, shaking and crying as they try in vain to get themselves to sleep, discomforted, as they perpetually are, by the fact that they are, and always will be, an estate agent.  (Only joking of course, in reality estate agents have no soul, and are therefore incapable of producing tears or feeling guilt)

In a song:  Hotel Room Service by Pitbull
Pitbull is a man reviled by everyone except himself, and seeing as Alex sees only the benefits of unpopularity, the two are a perfect match.

Melody Hossaini

In the photo provided, Melody appears to be trying and failing to pull off the 'fierce' look.  She's given it a go though, and that deserves credit.  Her quote is "Don't tell me the sky's the limit when there are footprints on the moon." You go girl! In addition, she speaks five languages and has worked with 12 Nobel Peace Prize winners.  Unfortunately she's got the Dalai Lama twice, so it's only really 11, but she will do swapsies for a shiny Barack Obama.

In a song:  What Makes A Girl Fierce by Fierce Girl 
She certainly thinks she knows what makes a girl fierce, and sounds brilliant, but in the end will probably only peak at number 52 :( .

Leon Doyle

He may look smugger than Lord Peacock-Smuggington of Smarmleyshire, but actually Leon is "charming, genuine and honest".  Well that's what he says anyway.  The quote that accompanies his blurb is "I don't like your gimmicky salesman who thinks he can sell ice to an Eskimo. Chances are he probably can't, and why would an Eskimo buy ice?"
So far, so Stuart Baggs.  But when you think about it, he poses quite a deep question.  Why would an eskimo buy ice?  These days we take it for granted that, in some instances, the best salesmen could make them.  But why would they pay for it, when it's sitting there all around them?  I've honestly never questioned it before!  Consider my head blown.

In a songBlowin' In The Wind by Bob Dylan
Clearly Leon is about to prove himself as one of the greatest thinkers of our generation, and will bring philosophy to the BBC1 masses.  Just as Bob said, "the answer is blowin' in the wind", and to be honest after the eskimo-ice revelation I've just had I can't believe I didn't realise that.

Jim Eastwood

Jim is a keen cyclist, and in his teens was an All Ireland cycling champion.  This is certainly impressive, but I can't help but notice one slight discrepancy.  In his quote, he states "I'm not a show pony or a one-trick pony, I'm not a jack-ass or a stubborn mule, and I'm definitely not a wild stallion that needs to be tamed. I am the champion thoroughbred that this process requires."  The assertion here is that Jim is far from your average Apprentice contestant - he is in fact a horse.  The problem is that while this would give him considerable athletic prowess, he would struggle to ride a bike with the level of steadiness required of an All Ireland cycling champion.  I'm struggling to get my head around it, but then as Leon has already proved, my capacity for thought is somewhat limited.  Surely the hooves would just slip off?

In a songTalk To The Animals by Rex Harrison
If Jim really is a horse (and I have my doubts), then one would imagine he could communicate with other horses.  Just like Doctor Doolittle, he could talk with the animals!  Just think for a second how amazing that would be.  Incredible.

Tom Pellereau

Of all of the 16 contestants, Tom is the only one to have had his photo taken unawares.  He's just fiddling with his cuff when he sees a flash and looks up at the camera.  It's a bit unfair really.  He claims he works as an inventor, but in his blurb is "proud to say that a prototype made in his kitchen made it on to the shelves of two leading pharmacy outlets in the UK."  That sounds quite impressive, but when it's your job to invent things it's probably quite ordinary.  The fact that Tom feels the need to flag it up as a success suggests his creations don't often make the grade.  Poor Tom :( .

As a song:  El Salvador by Athlete
"Next time," Tom will think, "I'll choose the picture for myself".  Which is also a line in 'El Salvador'.  DO YOU SEE?  In addition lyrics about "videos and global sales" are probably about business or something, which is apt.

Ellie Reed
I don't quite know what to say about Ellie.  In her picture she genuinely looks like she's about to chin me.  Apparently she "chased a burglar out of her house at 17".  Crikey.  I wouldn't be too surprised if she didn't actually 'chase' them, instead just standing there, arms folded, glaring.  She could give that glare to Sirralan at the start of week one and he'd feel compelled to give her the 250k there and then, if only out of sheer terror.  If she doesn't actually win then expect violent reprisals.

As a song:  Psycho Killer by Talking Heads
Harsh, maybe, but potentially accurate.  Also, David Byrne could have taken "Say something once, why say it again?" and "I hate people when they're not polite" straight out of the No-Nonsense Apprentice Candidate phrasebook, something Ellie certainly seems to be taking notes from herself.

Helen Louise Milligan

Helen Louise is "executive assistant to the CEO of Greggs bakery" and works "24/7".  Her interests include reading and swimming.  I'm not going to call her a liar but if she really does work 24/7 then I imagine she would have difficulties bringing her Greggs work into the pool.  One thing is for sure; I don't think the people at her local leisure centre would be too keen on seeing her soggy steak slice.  I have no idea what that is a euphemism for.

As a song: Ma Baker by Boney M
This is mainly because she works for Greggs.  Perhaps more suited to Ellie, but if you put your mind to it, you could still imagine her as an outlaw, with her photo "hanging on every post office wall".  Well I can anyway.

Natasha Scribbins

"I'm like a really fine tuned switch," claims Natasha.  "If I need to turn it down then I turn it down. If I need to turn it up then I turn it up."
Normally Apprentice contestants sound like they (or the show's producers) have spent days trying to think of a memorable, contemptible quote to introduce themselves with, but Natasha obviously couldn't be bothered.  She has delivered what is possibly the worst statement of intent in the history of the programme.  It's laudable, but as a result she'll probably go in the first week.  

As a song:  A Whiter Shade Of Pale by Procul Harum
If she wants to win she's going to have to be a little (quite a lot) more entertaining.  Here's one for you Natasha: "I didn't come here to play, I came here to stay.  When I was at school they didn't call me Natasha, they called me Nacasha.  Basically I am amazing."  See how easy that was?  As it stands: beige.

Zoe Beresford

Zoe is "project manager for a drinks manufacturer", which means she will probably take the lead and then be fired in the obligatory Week 5 'Create and Market A Brand New Soft Drink' task.  When she was 12, she bought a house.  A real, full sized house.

As a song:  It Always Comes As A Surprise by Pet Shop Boys
If someone can buy a house when they are 12, they are probably capable of a lot of things that most people can only dream of doing.  I suspect that she will never cease to amaze on the show with a constant stream of similarly ridiculous anecdotes.  When she leaves half way through the show though, no one will remember her, leaving as little a trace as It Always Comes As A Surprise did on Bilingual.  :(

Edward Hunter

He may sound like a Tekken character, but is actually an accountant.  I wonder if he was 'Ed Hunted' for the job?  (Hahahaha etc.)  He claims to be "honest and direct", something he shows in his photo by looking straight ahead, directly into the camera.  It's a bit frightening.

As a song: Fight Test by The Flaming Lips
He might well be the first ever human representation of a Tekken character.  I can see it now, with that photo on the screen: "EDWARD HUNTER - WINS".  He'd certainly give Ellie a run for her money.

Vincent Disneur

"My positive approach and very good looks make me stand out from the crowd."  If you say so, Vincent.

As a song:  Everything's Better With Muppets by Spray

Edna Agbarha

"Weak people in business are a waste of space and a limp handshake is unforgivable."
If I were to make a wild guess, I'd say Edna will be the type of person who uses honesty and candidness as an excuse for being tactless and rude in the face of others, and there's always at least one extreme example of those on each series of The Apprentice.  (She's probably a really nice person and all that, but rash judgements are a lot more fun)

As a songGareth Brown Says by mclusky 
As an opening line, "All of your friends are cunts" is rather audacious.  Expect similarly frank bon mots from Edna.

Gavin Winstanley

Gavin is managing director of his own online glasses retailer, Glasses123.  When I tried browsing his website however, it was broken.  This is not a good start.  He also claims to be "all mouth" and says "I'm everything".  He is not doing a very good job of endearing himself to me.

As a song: Everything In Its Right Place by Radiohead
Everything (Gavin) is going to be very suited to this show I think. 

Felicity Jackson

Felicity, in a break from the norm, seems quite nice. 
She says: "Lord Sugar will probably find it difficult to ever say anything negative to me because I always turn it round to a positive."  See?  Nice.

As a song:  Wonderful by Gary Go
Nice, inoffensive and as a result forgettable.  This song reached number 25 in 2009 - only two years ago - and even if it didn't pass you by the first time, chances are you won't remember it.

Glenn Ward 

Pretty sure he was on it last time.   Glenn describes himself as "an intelligent man with a dry sense of humour".  'Dry sense of humour' could very easily be interpreted as MASSIVE LAD BANTS though, so you have been warned.

As a song:  Cigarettes & Alcohol by Oasis
Providing he does turn out to be a Lad, this song will be the perfect match - leery, noisy, leery and boorish.  Again, he's probably very nice really.

And there we have it.

Monday, 2 May 2011

The James Dean of the Music Scene

Back in 2002, Daniel Bedingfield made some pretty grandiose claims about being the "James Dean of the music scene".  It seemed like nothing more than a bit of pop posturing at the time, but those words proved to be eerily prescient when, in 2004, just a month after his 24th birthday, Bedingfield was involved in a serious car accident, just as Dean had been at the same age.

Fortunately for Beddo, his crash, unlike Jimmy's, did not prove fatal.

As a result of this, he now possesses serious Dean credentials.  The snag is that he is not the first to do so - before Bedingfield there was Bradfield, and before him came the makers of stone cold Italo classic "Madame".

Little information is available about the band (there is some on Discogs), but that scarcely matters because quite frankly the song is amazing.

Real Music: Christina Aguilera

"We take it back to real music and a time before there was any such thing as an MTV or any way to show an artist through video or internet or packaging,"
"It's definitely about going back to old music where you wanted to buy it or listen to it on the radio purely from what sounds good on your ears, something that moves you." 

The above quotes, from a recent interview, demonstrate Christina Aguilera first harking back to a completely imaginary prelapsarian past, just as Jessie J and Sandi Thom have done to bewildering levels of success in the past few years, and then genuinely believing that nowadays The General Public are completely incapable of enjoying music without prejudice (perhaps she's just trying to rationalise her recent failure to sell many records).

But what is she talking about?  More pertinently, why do the press still care about what she thinks?  The answer to both questions: she has a new TV show.

Its name is 'The Voice' and is another search for a star type affair from the US. Given her apparent yearning for ye olde days of yore, it may be presumed that the show would differ vastly from its competitors, the likes of American Idol and America's Got Talent.  One could reasonably expect, for example, that 'The Voice' would have no website, be the subject of no large advertising campaign and, for that extra touch of authenticity, have no visual element whatsoever.  Unfortunately, what with it being a major American TV programme in 2011, it has all three.

But fear not Real Music fans - there is one important difference.  The main gimmick is that the four judges - Aguilera, Cee Lo Green, Adam Levine and Some Country Singer - don't get to see the auditionees while they perform, instead sitting with their backs turned to them in huge red swivel chairs.  If they like what they hear, they spin around and in a cross between Dragons' Den and The X Factor attempt to persuade them to join their 'team', all the while pretending not to be disappointed that the angelic voice they have just enjoyed has turned out to belong to a man who looks like some kind of Shane McGowan-Mark E Smith-pig hybrid.

For a woman so in debt to MTV, video, the internet and 'packaging' for the success she has had, Aguilera is being more than a mite hypocritical here, perhaps even ungrateful.  The overall objectionableness of her sentiments can by summed up by those two little words: Real Music.

Accordingly, Christina Aguilera is the second person to be added to The Real Music Wall Of Shame.  Well done everybody.