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.
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!
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.
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 boyband 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 boybands 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 wants 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.
When I hear a song I do not know, I have to quickly identify it. For a while, when my HTC Desire was brand spanking new (late 2010) I had Shazam installed and would use it at every available opportunity. However, over two years later, my Desire lacks the memory space to hold any useful apps, so I have Shazam installed on my Nexus 7, not the most mobile of devices but it does work perfectly – most of the time.
Let me take you back five weeks, to Friday 25th January. My colleague Harps offered me a lift home in his beloved white BMW 330d cabriolet. (Surprisingly this was the first ever time he was giving me a lift home, even though we have worked together for almost exactly a year!) The journey started off with Luda (who else!) but Harps was switching to various songs on his MP3 CD. It then switched to an Unknown Artist – Unknown Track (I of course, would never have such an epic fail on my audio collection, all my ID3 tags (v1) are fully compiled). The song was instantly catchy and I asked Harps to name the artist, when he could not, so I switched on my tablet and Shazam’d (is that even the adjective?). This song would be the soundtrack to not just my weekend but the rest of the month! I downloaded the song from the internet and then had it burnt onto CD for a drive to Oxford (via Aylesbury on Sunday afternoon). The song, which is of the RnB persuasion rather than HipHop, is called Who Booty (Remix) by John Hart featuring French Montana.
Glee has been a mixed bag of late, at times becoming a parody of itself in this it’s fourth season. However, in places the quality has improved, as the the new characters develop and make bonds with each other. Episode eleven, “Sadie Hawkins” we had very low expectations for, but it actually proved to be quite a good visit to Ohio, not just for bringing in some interesting movement to the plot but also some fantastic songs! The highlight for myself was the cover of TLCs 1999 comeback hit “No Scrubs”. However for my dearest wife, it was the cover of the much more recent Bruno Mars – Locked Out Of Heaven (even if some of the lyrics are risqué for a family friend television show). Straight after the girls performance, a song kicks in on the dance-floor but apart from a few patchy lyrics, there was no way for me to identify the song. The audio volume is just far too low and with characters (Kitty and Puckerman) talking there was no chance of me identifying the song. I noted down a few lyrics after listening a few times and then went over to Google. My searches were rather fruitless but I was not the only person whom had noted the song and wanted to know who the artist was. My first port of call was TV.com, registering and leaving the question as a comment. I had little response, so a few days later I tried entering the few lyrics I could make out into Google and sure enough was taken to a Glee forum. Sure enough, I was not the only person looking for this unidentified song, but so far the trail had run suddenly from hot to cold, as all the suggested songs were not the song in question. We were left thinking that this was an unreleased song, which had been produced specifically for the show. I had lost hope of ever finding out the artist and track name. This was until Thursday morning, when I happened to go back to the forum to check if there had been any updates. There had and the answer to the question that had been on my mind for the past few weeks was finally there on the web page. The artist was Rae, the song was 305 and it featured, in a slightly different mix on the Hop soundtrack. Mystery solved.
It does make me think, how much harder life was before the interweb. How did we ever get the answer to more deep and meaningful questions, rather than some random song played within the context of a high school prom on a television show. Back in June 2005, I had a similar problem with a song I heard on my portable DAB radio. It did not take me that long to find that song, as I actually had the title of the track from the chorus. Do you not just love this connected, always on world we live in, with the possibility of so much at our fingertips? I sure do!
You would class “305″ or is it “The 305″, as bubble gum pop, whereas I prefer to use the term pure pop! The lyrics and overall production remind me of the opening track from the Resse Witherspoon movie, Legally Blonde. The track which plays during the opening credits is Perfect Day by Hoku. The 305 even includes the lyrics, “It’s a perfect day” in reference to the older song by Hoku – pure coincidence perhaps! It is almost seven years ago since I was naming checking this romantic comedy, the song and even quoting the lyrics on my blog!
As expected, additional dates were added for the Mrs Carter Show World Tour starring Beyoncé. Therefore it was a case of deja vu for myself and colleague Priyam on Friday morning. I was keen to make sure I secured tickets on this second priority sale, even if that meant skipping breakfast all together. I knew the process now, so made sure I logged in early and waiting impatiently in the Virtual Waiting Room. All my details were already in-putted (although surprised they could not save my information from the previous day) At 9:30am sharp, I was through and booked tickets almost immediately for six people. Priyam had logged into the site, a minute after me, but was left waiting in the waiting room. The opportunity to purchase tickets never materialised. I, on the other hand, spent almost six hundred pounds in a world record twenty seconds. My colleagues were shocked at how quickly I navigated the site and took the best tickets available in my price category. Seating may not be perfect, but I would rather be there at the O2 Arena, than be watching on television.
My dilemma now is that I find myself some four hundred miles on Tyneside on the day of the concert and will need to make my way back down South, rather sharp-ish. I cannot rely on my friends, so may have to book a flight back. This may sound drastic but the reality is that a weekend with the lads, will never go according to plan. It would be unfair of me to force the rest of the group to leave the city early around 1pm sharp to ensure I make it to London in time for Beyoncé. I thought I was getting too old for these ultimate adventure weekends. Perhaps not, perhaps this is one last through of the dice. I do enjoy the thrill of trying to fit too much into a weekend. Thankfully, there is a Bank Holiday Monday to cushion the bump back to reality that would have been Monday morning.
Racking my brain and my blog archives, I have discovered that there is a precedent for such an event. Way back in July 2007, I was in Wrexham, visiting my dear friend David Jones and had to rush back on Sunday morning to ensure I got home to Wycombe, so I could take my sisters to Wembley Stadium for Concert for Diana. Six years ago, I believe I had the energy for a two hundred mile drive and then train trip to Wembley. Unsure of how I will cope with a flight, after a heavy weekend with the boys and travelling into Greenwich. Oh well, time will tell people!
I would never consider myself a big Beyoncé
Knowles Carter fan, but generally I enjoy her output. I have seen her perform live, almost seven years ago at Earls Court, for the World Music Awards (she even performed my favourite song at the time, Irreplaceable from her second studio album, B Day). It was perhaps her performance at Glastonbury a few years ago, which made me think, I need to see this woman perform live at her own concert (not just an awards show) where she is fully in control of the entire experience. Soon after I made this statement, she fell pregnant and it would be at least two years before I would be able to see her perform, if she ever embarked on a world tour again. It is not like she really needs the money, married to a multimillionaire hip-hop artist in his own right.
Only recently did I discover that my colleague and friend Harps Virk is probably the biggest Beyoncé Knowles fan this side of the pond. In fact, we were both at the World Music Awards almost seven years ago! Harps was towards the end of the catwalk part of the stage, whereas I had been standing quite close to the front of the stage at the start of the catwalk. Such a small world we live in, that I would not only be working with this guy, but he also happens to live in the same town as me (Slough for the uninitiated).
How do you prove your worthiness as a fan? People do this in many different ways, some set up fan sites, as shrines to their beloved movie star or musician. Others convert their bedrooms or even living rooms to a living museum to their idol. Having been a fan of MJ for many years, I know fans whom have gone to such extremes and beyond. Harps is no exception, having a high quality mug made of the former Destiny’s Child singer (can I still say former when they are making a comeback, unsure of the group’s current status).
He says, he also has a life size card board cut out in his bedroom. I have yet to see photographic evidence of this, but surely that would put in him a league of his own in Beyoncé fandom. I mean, he even goes to the extreme of only pausing a Destiny’s Child music video (playing via YouTube application on my Nexus 7) when B is on the screen! (I do not want to have Kelly on my screen, was the remark made). So here we are on Thursday morning at 8:46am, waiting impatiently to get our hands on my some tickets for the Miss Carter World Tour. Breakfast can wait for a change but I do look forward to my victory cup of tea shortly! Talk amongst yourselves, I could be a while!
After almost two hours of waiting, I end up with nothing. Watching as other fans across the UK bag their tickets and proclaim their joy on the social network that is Twitter. I used the hashtag mrscarterworldtour and many of the tweets I have retweeted into my time line, if you are so inclined. My colleague Priyam got into the site but was only able to purchase a single ticket. Nobody wants to see Beyoncé on their own. She closed her Internet Explorer window and I did pretty much the same a few minutes later after received this error message, multiple times.
As most people know I consider myself a connoisseur of the creative medium of music videos, having amassed a collection beyond the one thousand barrier. I keep a look out for new music videos from time to time, although I tend not live on YouTube as you might expect. Without MTV at our flat (a wrong, I will indeed right at some point in the future with MTV HD) I tend to watch Viva or 4Music from time to time at the weekend. The odd time they are not showing general programming (which tends to be the weekend mornings). They have both morphed into general youth entertainment channels. How many re-runs of The Fresh Prince can you watch? Another location that will always play music videos is the gym.
At EasyGym we are not blessed with MTV or even the Freeview babies mentioned above, no they can do better than that. There own dedicated music video channels (there are two, but only one is visible on the TV) the other is accessible via the equipment (bikes, cross trainers etc). When I am on the bike, I tend to watch Sky News to catch up on what is going on around the world. Being a news junkie, this is perhaps the only time apart from weekday mornings and the odd Saturday morning that I am watching a rolling news network. However, I am not completely sad, I keep an eye out on the music videos being played on EasyGym 1 (they also pump out the music of the same song on the internal PA system, although at times this was not always the case). I quickly switch over to Channel 4 on my bike if I see anything I like.
During the Christmas break trips to the gym were always going to take a hit but I did attend on the penultimate day of 2012! It was on this occasion I spotted a fantastic video on Easy Gym 1, however I was on the rowing machine, and so the awkward viewing angle meant I did not catch the artist. To some a problem but I had spotted Timbaland in the video, and so it would be something I would look up later. As usual with the grand plans I make in the gym, I never acted upon this imaginary task on my task list! However I should really explain what drew me to this video in the first place. For context remember I have my own mp3 player playing my gym playlist so cannot hear the actual song. I am going on images alone! The singer, Rosette is shown in her lingerie but her body is blurred out. Now it is quite clear she is not naked so I do wonder why the EasyGym version was censored. Perhaps the management wanted to take into consideration the demographic of the location but still this was rather extreme. How many lingerie billboard posters did you note around the place just before Christmas? Around Reading station, I noted at least 4, around Slough Bath Road, 6 (the majority (if not all!) for H&M!). In any case, I only remembered the song again on Monday (14th) evening as I was in the gym carrying out a quick cardio session. The video is quite tame, if you consider a music video, which nearly knocks former Prime Ministers from the rowing machine. I noted down in my memory banks the artist on this occassion and finally got hold of the song on Tuesday evening. It has been playing practically non-stop on my mp3 player ever since. Unfortunately, due to a clinch in the Rockbox audio scrobbler, it has not picked up my multiple listens of the same song, so you will not find any evidence on my Last.fm (it is on the right menu of my main blog page). I know many people would get bored listening to the same song all day and for hours at a time. However I am unique in this fashion. Back in PBD (pre blogging days) I recall a car journey in my Mum’s Mini Mayfair when I listened to Pure Shores by All Saints on loop, driving my passengers mad! (For the record I have still to see the movie, The Beach).
Off on a little meandering tangent now but it will be worth it, trust me. If you are of a certain age (early thirties) you may recall an extremely popular television show called Sabrina – The Teenage Witch. My sisters and I were big fans and did watch the show up to the last season (when Sabrina went to college and the show pretty much jumped the shark). However, I am refering to one from season one. The episode featured many famous guest stars, including Thomas. F. Wilson (you will be familiar with him as Biff Tannen from the Back To The Future trilogy). However the ladies out there will remember it for the appearance of Beverley Hills 90210 star, Brian Austin Green. He was created using Man Dough and christened with the fantastic name, Chad Corey Dylan. The perfect, “Dream Date”. This week and probably for a few months, I will forever be saying, “Michelle, I really really love this song!”
Mid to late September is a crucial time for the US television networks. As the nights begin to draw in, the television schedule kicks off again with all of our favourites and some new shows to consider. Glee, now in series four, started a few weeks back and the majority of shows kicked off this week. Thursday 27th September (yesterday) being the season opening night for many shows. This works perfectly for me, as I can then plan to catch the shows on Friday evening and over the course of the weekend.
There was a time in my life I would hide the fact I am a certified Gleek! Instead I am posting online for the world to know that I adore the show and in particular two characters Blaine and Santana (for two very different reasons!). Episode four was screened this week and opened up with my one of my favourite songs of all time. The moment I heard the opening guitar rifts, I jumped up from the sofa and put the volume up. My favourite singer – Blaine Anderson was about to cover Tears For Fears. As my wife would note later, “His voice is just perfect for 1980s songs!”. True.
Everybody Wants To Rule The World probably sums up the whole decade in four minutes. In context here though, it takes on a very different meaning. How do you keep yourself busy when your boyfriend lives on the other side of the country? Just when you thought Glee may be losing some of it’s sparkle (some students have now graduated so their stories are fragmented from the remaining New Directions) it comes along and surprises you from the opening minute. Long may the trend continue.