Category: Music

Holiday Mode Shopping Music

H&M has become the perfect retail destination prior to any holiday. To be honest, before I met Michelle I never considered the clothes they produced, although it was and continues to be a regular haunt for three of my sisters. However this post is not about the good quality clothes produced by the retailer, instead I am focusing on their fantastic music policy in not just the UK but across Europe. Back in late September 2013 I had to use my memory to record song lyrics that I would then Google later to try and discover the name of the artist and song. I am sure you do this all the time and maybe like me you forget the lyrics or to actual remember to search for them when you are next at the computer screen. Please also note, that it has only been recently that I have had access to Shazam on my HTC One M8. I did have the app installed on my HTC Desire for a brief moment when storage capacity was not an issue. It was actually in early July 2010, almost five years ago that I was in H&M with Michelle in our second city, Birmingham that I heard a song that would stick with me, not just my two week holiday in India but for good. Charice would later even then have a guest spot of a few episodes on my favourite television show Glee.

Let me fast forward to the present, in mid March I was in Bucharest. Travelling light as I always tend to do, I needed to purchase a t-shirt and jumper and we headed to the mall opposite our hotel – The Europa Royale. Being a tourist, you always head for the familiar brands of home and I found myself in H&M, with Priyam and Minal mid afternoon on Friday 13th March and was browsing the Men’s section upstairs and trying to concentrate on the song that was being played. I was not a position to switch on my data plan and use Shazam, so instead noted down some of the lyrics in Google Keep to look up later or even when I go home. I only noted down the following words “Get me out of my mind spiralling”. Somehow, I was able to find out that song was Erica Gibson – Out Of My Mind.

How does this US retailer seem to always find songs that I like? Whether I am in their store in Windsor or further afield, they seem to be on the money with their song choices. Perhaps they have the research that by playing the right songs, the customers will be in the mood to spend even more money. Apart from the trip to H&M in September almost two years ago, on the other two occasion I was either on holiday or just about to go on holiday, so perhaps I was in the mood and mode, reflected so well in the songs.

It’s All Glee To Me

Let me set the record straight once and for all. Glee has always been about the music. We have cared little for the characters and the outrageous plot lines or the person irritating cheerio coach and later principal Sue Sylvester in that particular week’s episode. Having just watched the two hour finale, to not just season six but the entire show, I feel in the right place to finally reflect on a great television show of the past few decades, but perhaps not quite the greatest.

My love affair with Glee started when Michelle’s dear friend Shabana, recommended I watch the show, primarily for the Show Choir tutor – Mr. William Michael Schuester. He had not just an amazing voice but was able to shake it on the dance floor. So in late 2009 and into early 2010 I was watching the first series to catch up with the output on E4. Most important to me was the fact the whole premise of the show was fun. It never took itself too seriously and even when plot lines went a little moody, there was always a quick segway into a usual comic music number. The stand out performances for me in that opening season were from Artie in the single episode Dream A Little Dream. They were Safety Dance and Dream A Little Dream. The Men In Hats number would remain my favourite until the start of season two.

I can appreciate the difficult job when the writers took up the reins of series two. How could they top the debut? The result was a slow start until the sixth episode. Many people may have given up at this point but I was keen to give the show the time it deserved. I knew better things would come along eventually. I was right, the introduction of The Dalton Warblers and in particular Blaine Anderson took Glee to new heights. They would remain at this peak for two good seasons. I tended to blog about Glee only when there was a performance worth highlighting or a particular plot point that deserved to be reviewed. However as I mentioned at the start of this post, music was key to anything. The characters were all larger than life, even Principal Figgins whom will always be a hero of mine!

Feeling a little underwhelmed having just watched the final eighty odd minutes of Glee. Although the ending was perfectly poignant, it felt rather rushed to get all the various strings of narrative tied together for a crowd pleasing finale. The cast and crew had plenty of fun in this sixth and final season, you could tell with some of the flamboyant song choices (even by Glee standards). My criticism of this limited run, will always be the desire to fill in too many stories into a definite amount of screen time. Never was any plot given the justice it so badly craved. Instead it felt like a brainstorm session gone into overdrive with nobody willing to take the decisive decision, so all ideas got thrown into the melting plot, with no care for how they might end up in the end product on the small screen.

Having said all of that, there were still moments of sheer magic. In episode three, entitled Jagged Little Tapestry there was the mashup performance of King’s “Will You Love Me Tomorrow” and Morissette’s “Head over Feet”. Let me underline that I have never been a fan of the mashup, particularly on Glee. (Personally these types of songs should be left in the hands of the experts, such as music television channel Q) Jane Hayward’s beautiful voice complemented the tender tone of Mason McCarthy to create the perfect balance for a contemporary love song. The show reminded me what a ground breaking album Alanis had released way back in 1995, with so many hit songs. I had to download Head over Feet again to remember how elegantly written and sung the song is, with lyrics such as “You Ask Me How My Day Was…”

Finding it difficult to summarize a show which I have watched religiously for the past six years, but that never quite got under my skin like Greek or Fringe. (I could go into the reasons why, but they are actually scattered across this blog under the tag glee. Feel free to have a rummage around!) Forty three odd minutes spent (usually) on a Sunday morning to watching the latest happenings in a high school in Ohio, with larger than life academic staff and children with a multitude of issues for a multitude of reasons. Instead I am going to leave the final few words from articles I found online in the past few days. Firstly Daniel Martin in The Guardian, perhaps puts his finger directly on the button of what gave Glee it’s quintessential charm and why at times it was lost with moving the action to New York. Then from the eyes of a fan aged thirteen at the shows premiere, and still a teenager (just) as the show came to a close – Emily Zauzmer with her Ode To Glee from The Harvard Political Review.

Glee has added so extra spark to my life that the show in my eyes, will never be forgotten. Even if I am far from the demographic that should have registered any interest in the Fox show. Without Rachel Berry and Kurt Hummel, I would never have gone to watch Wicked in the West End for my 30th birthday. I would have discovered and re-discovered some awesome songs that may otherwise have been forgotten forever. The reality for me, as a fan of 1980s pop was watching Ryan Murphy and team re-work a classic and somehow get the song to fit into the plot. An easier job before they took the elementary option of themed weeks as if this was an episode of The X Factor. Perhaps that was the moment Glee lost some of it’s charm. For me, any show that can launch the career of beautiful Naya Rivera and multi talented Darren Criss (among many more) deserves all the accolades it achieved, even if only at the start. Now while many will put it down to a ‘fad’, I will forever associate the show with fun times I had, watching a comic book musical come to life each week on my television screen.

Sue v Will

Expert In The BBC

What do you think of when you hear those three letters? The BBC – The British Broadcasting Corporation. It does seem to conjure up images of the 1950s with men in their stiff suits and ties with a stuffy presence of the old boys club in charge of a public service broadcaster not only for the UK but around the globe. I have always been fond of the BBC. Something as British as cheese scones, strawberries at Wimbledon and Shakespeare. I do confess in my early teens, when I became a news junkie, I went through a phase of watching only Sky News. I hope I can be forgiven for my naivety at such a tender age, to not understand how news bias works. Sure the BBC can at times have a bias but it is more impartial than most. Plus I prefer the presenters journalists.

Been attempting to plan a trip to the BBC Tour of New Broadcasting House for many months. Initially it was an idea for my birthday late last year but tickets seem to sell out fast and you need to book almost two months in advance, particularly if you want a choice in time slots. For Clive’s birthday I booked the BBC Tour for 10:45am on Friday 20th February, as a belated gift. It was a special birthday – he had only revealed his true age to me about two months previously and I had attended a celebratory dinner at The Peacock in Henton on Saturday 7th February.

Due to personal circumstances, I was quite sure that Clive would cancel our meeting in Central London and I would need to find another person (sixty plus) to take instead. However from the outset, he text me to not cancel the tour. This was not an option in any case, as tickets were non transferable and non refundable. As the day drew closer, it was going to be the highlight of not just my week and entire weekend. However it was to surpass all my expectations.

Waking up at 7am on a day off is actually a lie in for me, as I am used to waking up before 6am on weekdays to get into the office bright and early. I got ready and then headed to the train station, purchased my One Day Travelcard from the ticket machine and got to platform one with a minute to spare before the 08:32 service arrived promptly, to whisk me to Central London. From Paddington I took the Hammersmith & City Line to St. Pancras – King’s Cross to await the arrival of Clive on his first class East Midland service originating from Sheffield. The train was scheduled to pull in at 10:06am. Having navigated myself around the station and being aware where the East Midland trains were schedule to arrive and depart (upstairs) I headed to Starbucks for a large cup of tea. I was disappointed the member of staff whom took my order did not ask for my name on the cup. Although by pure coincidence the person in front of me in the queue was called “Andrew” but as he was ordering coffee (like 90% of the people around me) it was unlikely for our orders to get mixed up. I then made my way back up to wait for Clive and kept regular contact via SMS, while he probably had his fifteenth cup of complimentary coffee.

East Midland Mainline Departure/Arrival Board

The train arrived early and I got off my seat to wait by the gates scanning all the commuters, looking for the 6 ft Mr. D. He arrived eventually and we acknowledged each others presence with a small salute. It was great to see Clive, for the first time since his birthday and the life changing news. I thought it best to clear the air and talk this through before moving on with our day. I had realised that I had not purchased a Zone 1 TravelCard for Clive, but thankfully had my Oyster Card which had plenty of credit for the few journeys we were going to make into the West End. The Tube Assistant app I had downloaded recently onto my HTC One M8 had a nifty feature to show which carriage is closed to the exit on your journey. Geoff will probably be annoyed but unsure if the Station Master app has finally arrived on Android. We made our way from St. Pancras to Oxford Circus which is just a five minute journey on the Victoria Line. We then had just a minute walk to be at the heart of the action. We were outside New Broadcasting House. Our tour was about to begin. First though we had to find the entrance. I asked a security guard in his high visibility jacket and was directed to the side entrance. We then had to go through an airport style security check of my coat and a full pat down with a magic wand by a security guard before we were given access to the building to join a long queue. We then had to check in and be given our BBC Tour lanyard. Our tour guides were Amita (also from Slough) and John. The group was a mixed bag with a handful of “adults” and then a teenage party who were all from a radio project at their secondary school but everybody was based in the UK. No language issues here.

While we waited, we could look into the bowel of the building. You will know this part of the building, you see if briefly at the start of every main news bulletin and on the hour on BBC News (formerly known as BBC News 24). This was perhaps the highlight for me, as I have always had a great admiration for everything the BBC does from a news perspective. Sure it is far from perfect but it is a news source, I and million others come to rely on a daily basis. Eventually our tour began and we were taken on a brief security briefing before being shown part of the live news from a big screen. Simon McCoy (he of paper ream fame) was presenting along side another presenter, whom I could not identify but will check the schedules. We were then taken to see The One Show studio, before being whisked across to the Radio Theatre to take part in a play. Clive volunteered to do the sound affects while a five of children took speaking roles. I recorded the video but hit the file limited, so will need to work some video editing magic to join the two clips together and upload to YouTube.

Broadcasting House

As we made our way through the 1930s art deco building, the former entrance to Old Broadcasting House, we were shown some memorabilia. One was the original microphone that would have been used by George VI for his “Kings Speech” during 1936. There was also the original speakers used by His Royal Highness to broadcast the first ever Christmas Message to the people of Great Britain and the Empire (now Commonwealth) in 1932. We were asked if anybody knew who had written the speech for the monarch – a member of the school group, a 16 year old boy responded with Rudyard Kipling – he was of course correct. We were amazed at his knowledge and when probed as to how he knew this information, he responded with the most confident line I have ever heard, “Well I’m an expert in the BBC”. Now just consider this for a moment. You are on a BBC Tour on BBC premises with staff with extensive knowledge of the history of the organisation and you come out with not just the answer to a question but the reason why you have this fountain of knowledge. I wish I had been as committed to the broadcaster at that age. The moment took me back, what was I passionate about now at the tender age of 33 – approximately 17 years senior to this intelligent young man. (Double the amount of time he has been alive). This is something to consider for another time.

Our tour ended with a brief interactive element – volunteers were requested, those whom had not taken part in the radio play. Two people to present the news from auto-cue and then after a brief training video from Carol Kirkwood on how to present the weather. Again I recorded elements of this and will upload to YouTube.

BBC Worldwide – the commercial arm of the organisation, never to miss a marketing opportunity had a small shop next to the cafe which is where the tour ends and we had a brief look at some of the merchandise before planning the rest of our afternoon. We had more than six hours to kill. Before leaving we decided to have a hot beverage at the Cafe Nero which lives opposite The One Show studio. The barriers had been erected now and there was a strong security precence, passes being checked. We opted to grab our drinks and sit outside to look out for any famous faces. Inside, Robert Peston was getting a drink and being on autopilot as I was but in a rather lower volume I said out “Robert Peston” to Clive but Robert noticed as he picked up his drink and turned around and smiled at me and then went back to his chair and his notebook. Sitting outside we spotted a number of people including Richard Osman from quiz show Pointless, Tim Willcox news correspondent (wearing peach trousers or jeans) and finally from BBC Radio 1 (a station I am now far too old to listen to) Greg James. Although I have to confess for Greg James I had to do some Google image searches to confirm he was indeed the person we saw walking out with his girlfriend to probably grab some lunch.

The original plan had been to head to the British Library so I carry out some research on my grandfather whom fought against the Japanese in the Burma Campaign of World War II. However on contacting the Asian and Oriental Studies department, no records of the Army Officer were found and I have been referred to India. The office in New Delhi have yet to respond to my e-mail but I am not expecting a reply. Particularly with a government department using GMail to host their e-mail account. We then went ahead with out follow up plan which was to explore St. Pancras Station and in particular the Grand Midland Hotel, now fully restored to it’s 1860s spender. Little did I know the exclusive afternoon we would have.

Do you remember the music video to Wannabe? Yes by the Spice Girls around 1996. The start of the video was shot here in the Victorian staircase of The Grand Midland Hotel. After walking around some of the corridors, we made our way down to The Chambers Club. Little did I know that this is where we would spend the rest of the having a late lunch, catching up with my good friend and mentor whom I have now known for over twenty years.

ClockGrand StaircaseClive

This blog post is dedicated to Diamond Geezer. Over the past thirteen years I have followed his daily posts covering various events and locations but predominately the things to see, hear and do in and around the capital. Of course he completed this tour back in May last year. His one image on FlickR is much better than my collection from my mobile and I have the utmost respect for somebody who has the ability to write a fresh post everyday and care to stay fully anonymous in our celebrity centric world.

The Hippest Man In Cabinet

Long story but I would prefer to spare you all the details. I ended up working until gone 11pm in the office on Wednesday night. By the time I got home and started to heat up my food in the microwave, I caught the close of BBC Newsnight. This fabulous mashup video, was used as the credit roll, rather than the standard Newsnight theme.

Sometimes reality is better than fiction. The Chief Whip making a name for himself by annoying the Prime Minister DC and in the process breaking the cardinal rule during cabinet meetings Рno mobiles phones allowed. Now the question is, who is the biggest Beyoncé fan РMichael Gove or my dearest friend Harps Virk?

No Air

Driving home from Wycombe to Slough on Thursday 23rd October, around 9pm, the night sky was lit up with fireworks for Diwali. Travelling down the A404 (M), I was listening to Capital FM and a female caller, requested Wait On Me by Rixton. Having not heard this before, I thought it best to at least give the song a chance. Being outside the age bracket for contemporary popular music, I had never heard of this band before but had heard their other main hit – Me & My Broken Heart. (Although at the time I did not know who they were). Young people of today, will be shocked to discover that even up to the late 90s, you could call up a radio station to request a song, only for them to play something completely different. I can recall DJ’s actually saying, “We do not have song X, but we can play song Y, will you please introduce…” This practice obviously would not work in this well connected, YouTube, instant gratification world. Plus, how many young people wait for a song to be played on the radio. The prestige of such a premiere no-longer works in a multichannel multimedia world. A song can be available for many months on-line before you hear it on the radio, although to be fair to the radio networks, they have got better in recent years. Then again, who under 30 still listens to the radio?

Ed Sheeran is going to dance in his next music video was the filler chat from a DJ one weekend a few weeks ago, as I made my way out and about. I thought little more of this idle chatter until I went to watch the music video on YouTube via our television set a few nights later. Ed is dancing for sure, but it is little more than window dressing by his fabulous performance parter, from So You Think You Can Dance – Brittany Cherry. Reading about the choreographers of the dance, I was taken to some of their note worthy performances from the US dance competition. Unsure of a duo calling themselves Nappytabs (The concatenated name of married couple and working partners Napoleon & Tabitha). There was a comment from Jordin Sparks regarding her song “No Air” but I did not get a chance to watch the video until Friday evening, when I got to search for the video on YouTube on the TV. We had been viewing various clips, from Avengers: Age of Ultron trailer, to funny clips from The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. Watching the clip, took my breath away. YouTube with it’s file limits and heavy compression does not do the dance justice. I actually need to hunt down the full HD version but for now, this is all we have. How did I miss this from six years ago?

I have probably watched the clip about a dozen times now. I love every second, particularly the part when Joshua is brought back up from the floor by Katee. The ending with the exchange of the jacket is pure poetry. I wonder if Sparks or even Brown for that matter would have thought their song would ever been performed while a couple performed Lyrical Hip-Hop. While American has a long standing history of dance and dance shows, here in the UK, aside from BGT, most of the dance shows (Strictly Come Dancing aside) have flopped because there is not the appetite for this type of performance, cloaked with the candy of reality television presented by one of our own, Brummie Cat Deeley.

The Most Sincere Form Of Flattery

Feel I have been disconnected in recent weeks until my brother-in-law Steve streamed this video on his TV this afternoon. #PatelWilliams now that is just pure genius! Well done to Ali for another fantastic performance!

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.

WordPress Themes