Category: Music

Comedy Genius

Stumbled onto this video while switching over from the football on ITV HD. I know I should be more dedicated and sit through all seven hours of the annual BBC telethon but some years are better than others. The first edition away from Television Centre was always going to be interesting and I am surprised they selected Eltree Studios. (However it worked out well, with Strictly Come Dancing being based in Blackpool this weekend) Although it was poor excuse for international football on the other side (even if it is watching England lose!)

Hats off to Harry Hill for coming up with such a brilliant concept and casting each part perfectly. I have to say I miss his Saturday early evening TV Burp show. Just a shame I got into it rather late. Oh well, only a month to go until his movie is released in cinemas.

Local Radio

Whenever I go to get my haircut at 2 Geezers on Slough High Street they are listening to local radio station Time 106.6. As you can probably imagine, this “All Time Favourites” local radio station has staple songs and by some strange coincidence they are always broadcast while I’m waiting to get my haircut. On Friday, I left work at 5pm sharp to ensure I got into town to get my haircut before they close at 6pm sharp. The last few attempts I have made to get my haircut had all ended in failure and my hair was now just a big mess and now desperately needed to be attended to. I knew I was unlikely to find the time on Saturday.

Perhaps the only time I appreciate commuting to the office by train rather than car as when I worked at Microsoft, I did not have to worry about parking my car and ensuring the ticket would last long enough. I park in the Herschel Car Park behind the High Street and it is just a short minute walk to the barbers. However, I was caught out on Friday 16th September when I got a parking fine for overstaying. Even though I had the change for two hour slot, I only bought an hour ticket. My mistake, I would never do that again but low and behold, a mere month later I was in the same predicament. However as all the lower decks are marked for Monday to Friday only I had to drive up to the sixth level and this was perhaps my saving grace. I had the change for a two hour slot but the machine would not accept five pence pieces. I was stuck. I paid for over an hour but only got an hour ticket (as I was ten pence short). While I waited in the long queue at 2 Geezers I resigned to the fact I was going to be getting another £25 parking fine.

Back to the local radio which played Yah Mo B There by James Ingram and Michael McDonald and 1980s hit Hold On by Wilson Phillips. Only when I go to get my hair trimmed do I go into a time warp of the last last thirty years.

Dancefloor Nostalgia

Back in July my friends planned a trip down to the seaside to visit the O2 Academy in Bournemouth. The dance venue, formerly known as The Opera House was hosting the final night of Slinky before the global dance brand closed its doors for good. While the date for the first weekend in October, seemed like an age away, I put my name down as one hundred percent confirmed. While I would perhaps not have planned for a weekend away, I decided to book a cheap hotel and kill two birds with one stone by also seeing my old school mate Steve and his ten month old son Theo. Extended the social gathering to a full day allowing me to catch up with my mate who I had not seen for over two years. The last time I was in Bournemouth was on Wednesday 15th April 2009, when I drove down to watch the Champions League Quarter Final second leg of Arsenal v Villareal.

How time flies, it was over seven years ago since I was last at this venue, seeing Dutch DJ Tiesto perform in early August 2006. The place has been completely refurbished since my last visit and the upstairs balcony now only accessible to those with a VIP bracelet. Back in my carefree single days, the weekend I recall being mega packed with clubbing in Bournemouth on Friday night and then driving straight up to Leicester for my friend Sachin’s engagement party. That was just the way I rolled back in the day. Driving to all locations when now I would prefer to catch the train. I caught the train down to Bournemouth, using the time to catch up on my podcasts and two episodes of Eastenders on the BBC iPlayer I had pre-downloaded onto my Nexus 7 (2012). How times have changed indeed!

Slinky - The Send Off

A great night had by all. I wish I could say, that I stayed out until I was thrown out of the club at 5am. The reality is that was never going to happen. Being now, such an old timer, I lasted until 2:30am with my friend Paul, when we decided to leave and head back to our respective hotels. I believe the hardcore few, including Kevin stayed until closing time.

The Mother We Share

We live in a connected world. The news story I will see presented by George Alagiah on the 10 o’clock news on BBC One will feature in print media such as The Daily Mail and on the radio in heated debates on BBC Radio Five Live. Therefore we have to be selective on the news we do decide to consume. I have streamlined my podcast diet down to just three main regular slots. The fantastic ArseCast by ArseBlog every Friday during the EPL season. The Consumer Panel featuring multimillionaire Money Saving Expert Martin Lewis (there is an oxymoron in there somewhere!) Finally Let’s Talk About Tech presented by the delectable Chris Warburton. These two weekly podcasts from BBC Radio FiveLive, Thursday lunchtimes and Saturday evening respectively! I still need to get some partizan teach news so listen to The Engadget EuroCast but the broadcast of this is sporadic, usually once a fortnight but weeks can go past with no edition due to the tape recorder having chewed the cassettes. Rather a feeble excuse for a tech journalist website owned by AOL.

In Let’s Talk About Tech they feature new music every few weeks to keep the format fresh and appeal to a wider audience. Remember it is broadcast during prime time on a Saturday night. Last week I listened to the podcast some twelve hours after initial airing in the gym around 11am. I liked the band Chvrches and their slice of 1980s electronic synthesized pop on single The Mother We Share. The song was predicted to chart somewhere inside the Top 40 later that afternoon. I downloaded the song later that evening but it was news later in the week which came to both shock and dishearten.

I missed the bands performance on Jools Holland but some kind soul had uploaded to the segment in full onto the interweb so I was able to download and enjoy the understated but enigmatic performance of their song. While at work I noted an article by lead singer Glaswegian Lauren Mayberry on The Guardian website. People think they can hide behind the cloak of anonymity on the internet. Feel they can defend their position under the law of freedom of speech and expression. However words on the screen have a powerful impact on people in the real world. In particular impressionable teenagers, some of whom have tragically taken their own lives as a direct response of online abuse so called cyber bullying. Something has to be done to change the sentiment that anyone and anything is fair game in the wild west of the world wide web. Perhaps prominent figures, such as lead singers in indie bands speaking out, naming and shaming the offends will be a good place to start.

Life Before Shazam

How did we identify songs before the mobile app Shazam? Well you would have to remember a key lyric in the song, ideally the chorus. In most cases you would just have to record those words to memory, rather than write them down as a note in your smartphone. We are talking about the pre-smartphone era, so before the middle part of this decade. I can recall many a time searching for lyrics in Google, hoping the correct song with artist name and song title would appear in the results. Ideally the official music video, which you can then watch on YouTube. In modern times, there is no need to go to such great lengths.

While in H&M in Westfield yesterday afternoon, I heard a song come on the in-store radio system. Instantly I thought the artist was Rihanna, the song had her signature vocal all over the thumping beat. I could even make out what I thought was the title, War Child. I was actually wrong on both counts. I opened up Shazam on my smartphone and identified the song within seconds. It was actually called Wild Child by Australian prodigy Elen Levon. On tagging the song and artist, I quickly share this information with Wunderlist, my To Do List application which records the details under a section called music. Wunderlist has been a revelation for me as a “list” person. Available as an Android app, Windows app and online via the web, I can see my to do list wherever I am. I have a long list of songs I have heard on television, radio or just out and about and need to download.

Over three years ago, in the same store but in a different city, I heard a song but had to wait until I got home to work out who it was by and what is was actually called. Life is so different in this world of instant gratification. I am in my office gym this morning and have listened to the song six times back to back. To be honest, I am glad to finally give my music collection a refresh. My gym playlist has been very stale of late and at time become very repetitive. My podcast diet has been reduced down to mere two weekly podcasts, both from the Beeb. I no longer have the luxury of a two hour commute each day to fill with radio goodness. Listening to Martin Lewis of MoneySavingExpert.com on BBC Radio Five Live, while on the treadmill and I try to listen to the Let’s Talk About Tech (the Joy Of Tech was considered too risqué a name for the BBC and although the file name is still referred to by the old moniker) every Monday as that is recorded on a Saturday evening. I tried one of the American gym workout podcasts, GetFitPod last week but just could not get offer some cheesy American DJ, Skip Orem trying sooth me from his warm studio and I’m sweating it out on the rowing machine. I gave up (on the podcast not my workout) after about ten minutes. I did not like his choice of music in any case. Never trust a man with the name Skip.

Shazam can even save the tag, if no internet access is available at that moment in time and identify the song once you are back on the grid. As was the case in point for a song I had tried to identify in HMV a little later on this Saturday afternoon. It was not until later I could identify the song (while identify another song) that the artist was The 1973 – Settle Down.

The Wait Is Almost Over

Queen Bey

Aural Fixation

My viewing habits are well documented, the majority of my blog posts begin or lead to a moment from the television screen. My wife and I tend to focus on watching television shows during the week and save our movies for the weekend. However, sometimes an old classic is shown on Film4 or ITV2 and you just cannot resist the temptation to watch. A prime example was the 1980s action classic Total Recall last summer. On Wednesday night, we decided to watch Pitch Perfect. I had toyed with the idea of watching at the cinema but as the saying goes, you snooze you lose, so by the time I had actually thought I would go and see it, screenings had stopped. Never mind, I perhaps would have a felt a little short changed if I had spent money on cinema tickets (even on Saver Tuesday at our local Empire).

My expectations were a family unfriendly extended episode of Glee, in a college rather than high school environment. I like a capella music but am not particularly fond of mash-ups (see previous blog post). However, putting that to one side, this movie was great fun! I was unaware that Brittany Snow was one of the leads. An actress I have only come across in the last few years. Although I had heard about the movie John Tucker Must Die I actually had not seen it until it was on television a few years ago. Michelle told me it was worth watching and very funny! Unfortunately there is zero trace of me noting watching the movie sometime in 2011 on Twitter, Facebook or this blog. This was the first time I came across the beautiful actress Brittany Snow. I will sidestep the topic of her amazing body and instead focus my attention on her acting ability which was fantastic but we have to give the caveat that this was just a high school teen movie. The reality is, I should not have been watching this movie so close to my 30th birthday. A few months later, we watched Prom Night as the 2008 remake re-imagining was on Film4. I recall during this time we were going through an Idris Elba phase (Michelle in particular), watching Luther on television (stupidly season two before watching season one a fortnight later). I wonder if he will become the next Bond after Craig?

As a big fan of Glee, I was the ideal audience for Pitch Perfect but my expectations of a gross-out comedy in the vain of Bridesmaids, were quickly put to bed. This was going to be a fun ride and all the performers were actually extremely good singers in their own right, we just had not seen any of them sing before. Rebel Wilson steals the show as Fat Amy! The soundtrack was excellent, particularly some of the older songs from the 1980s. Some of the mashups were good but I was disappointed that some of the songs featured so prominently in the movie were neglected from the album. While the movie is centred around Anna Kendrick’s character, Beca I feel the supporting cast steal the show in many scenes. Character development is much further down the list of priorities but as an audience we tend not to worry about such things. Particularly if the film is entertaining enough! Great fun and highly recommended. Do not just take my word for it, the movie is rated as 80% fresh over on Rotten Tomatoes. Particularly watch out for one of the actors from The Treble Makers who has a close resemblances to my brother-in-law.

Film Title: Pitch Perfect

While reviewing Wikipedia as you do after watching a movie, particularly one you have enjoyed, it was great to see an update (as recently as yesterday) that a sequel has been green lit and Rebel Wilson as actually signed up for another two movies. A movie dedicated to Fat Amy, now that I would pay money to see!

Never As Good, Second Time Around

Have you been watching ITV2 on Thursday nights at 9pm. Purely just the fact that Andi (with an ‘i’) Peters narrates this nostalgic trip down musical memory lane from the turn of the century, should be enough for most people. I am of course referring to The Big Reunion. The broadcasters attempt to bring back a selection of pop groups for a reunion concert at The Hammersmith Apollo. Ultimately the draw for me, was Liberty X. I was a big fan of their music, having watched them get rejected on ITV’s The Popstars (for mediocre Hear’Say) to winning a Brit Award and beyond. My second favourite band (based on number of songs I personally like) would be 5ive. I did not like their initial material but towards the later part of their career, before they hung up their microphones, I enjoyed Keep On Moving and Closer To Me. Finally, out of the other bands, it has to be the Honeyz. If they had released more material (or probably just been around longer regardless of line up changes) they would have been my second favourite. As as aside, I was a passing fan of Solid Harmonie (Mariama Goodman left the band to join the Honeyz) around 1998-1999 when they appeared on the Nickelodeon’s comedy series, Renford Rejects.

My dearest wife made the comment, that nostalgia has a way of tricking us into the illusion that it was better back then, than it really was. In homage to this conversation, I have used her exact phrase as the title of this blog post. Dedicated to the UK pop scene at the turn of the twenty first century. Were we truly spoilt as much as this? I am yet to be convinced but I do recall a period in the late nineties and early noughties when there was a different number one single almost every week!

Perhaps I was a little old to be into this cheesy brand of manufactured popular music, first time around. The reality, which I have no problem admitting, is I till love my pop music. No matter how cheesy and lack of credibility that may come across for a man almost thirty two years of age. It is not the only music genre I listen to it but I enjoy it for what it is. I was looking forward to the show most for the concert at the end, but it was great to hear about all the stories from the band members themselves. Unaware at the time what was truly going on, as we were just fed whatever the record label machine was pumping out onto the airwaves and television screens.

It is the Honeyz that I feel the greatest deal of sympathy. Having signed to Def Jam records, they were on the bring of international stardom. For a member of the act to just walk out, would have left me completely devastated. Now I appreciate everyone will have their own reasons and we have to respect everybody’s desire to do what they feel is right at the time they feel it is right. Turning your back on what could have been an extremely successful recording career in the States and beyond, should not be a decision taken at the drop of a hat. Who knows what they would have achieved as potential rivals to Destiny’s Child.

Pure Pop

Boybands only came onto my musical radar in 1999, when Backstreet Boys released I Want It That Way. Since that point, as a young first year college student, I have never looked back. In 2003, I created an album exclusively of boy-band tracks. I have been listened to it again recently due to the fact that Glee in episode sixteen of season four, “Feud” pitted two of the biggest American boy-bands of all time against one another in a sing off come mash-up. Now, let me set you straight, I have tended to strongly dislike the mash-up concept, particular the songs used in Glee. However, on this occasion, the songs surprising do contrast each other well and we had pop perfection performances from Will Schuester and Finn Hudson. My only complaint is that the song is not long enough. After a difficult few episodes, I believe Glee is back to it’s best. I probably have spoken to soon and the show will once again hit the buffers. We catch the show on Sunday mornings while eating breakfast. It is perhaps the perfect pick me up to get you through the remaining hours of the weekend. In our case, we have to complete our weekly food shop at the supermarket as soon as the show finishes.

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