Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Albums of 2013

Right then! The last of the ten-a-penny countdowns is here, and this one rounds up the best albums. So here’s what to spend your HMV gift voucher on, assuming HMV is still open by the time you read this…

10. Empire of the Sun – Ice on the Dune
Huge, lilting synth melodies and glam-pop overtones all added up to a mesmerising finished product for the Sydney duo’s second album.

9. The Feeling – Boy Cried Wolf
That’s right, you pretentious Vice-reading spunkbubbles. The Feeling. And what of it? After two albums best left unmentioned, Boy Cried Wolf overtook even debut Twelve Stops & Home as their greatest work: a raw, atmospheric and surprisingly dark masterpiece.

8. Janelle Monae – The Electric Lady
Perhaps a tad on the lengthy side thanks to some additional lukewarm soul padding, but the good bits more than make up for it. Equal parts slick and explosive, it’s a mystery that Janelle Monae hasn’t yet taken over the world. But hey, it’ll happen.

7. Bastille – Bad Blood
They provided a lone oasis of pseudo-indie in a singles chart filled with fucking Pitbull, but their album made good on Pompeii’s promise. More, please.

6. The Boy Least Likely To – The Great Perhaps
Come on. Were you really expecting it not to be here?

5. Dawn Richard – Goldenheart
While some hailed her as the female Frank Ocean, this album proved Dawn Richard’s talent far eclipsed that. Brooding, discerning R&B years ahead of its time.

4. Biffy Clyro – Opposites
The double album facet might have seemed a bit gimmicky – the two halves were nowhere near as disparate as you might expect. Which meant, essentially, you were left with one big long Biffy album. And that’s a very good thing indeed.
3. Chvrches – The Bones of What You Believe
Synthy splendour which proved impossible not to love. Big tings a' coming.

2. Everything Everything – Arc
Much-deserved success came in the form of a Top 5 album back in January 2013, and even one listen to this bold, electro-indie stroke of genius explains why.

1. Macklemore & Ryan Lewis – The Heist
And the greatest album of the year goes to Macklemore & Ryan Lewis. Beneath the overt humour and face-value novelty, The Heist displayed a formidable level of musicianship, intelligence and some incredibly valiant messages. (That said, the lengthy dig at Jimmy Iovine remains a highlight.)

TV of 2013

Oh look. It’s the ten greatest shows of 2013. Obviously, I’ve had to discount any shows I’ve personally worked on for reasons of impartiality (because yes, they were all THAT awesome). And just missing the cut are Suits, Top of the Lake, and Toast of London. So behold, my all-important opinion, in handy list form:

10. Homeland
A very shaky start to Series 3 was eventually forgiven with one hell of a payoff mid-season. Where the show will go from that event of the final episode will prove interesting, but book me a front row seat regardless.

9. The Big Reunion
A surprisingly entertaining series (helped in no small part by bumbling sitcom rudeboy Abs Off Of Five, and a dash of genuine drama in the form of a few surprise revelations). Shame the line-up for Series 2 is so utterly shambolic.

8. Trollied
It’s a pity the dire Atlantis lured Mark Addy away from Valco, but that didn’t stop Trollied being the best British sitcom of 2013. Serious kudos to Sky 1 for getting it so right.

7. The Americans
This could easily have been a thrown-together paranoia-fest on the coattails of Homeland, but The Americans stood up on its own as a gripping, wily and inventive drama.

6. Breaking Bad
Sterling work, bitch.

5. Parks & Recreation
“I ate a brownie once. I felt like I was floating. It turns out, there wasn’t any marijuana in it. It was just an insanely good brownie.”

4. The Great British Bake-Off
Skills-wise, this was nowhere close to the standards of previous series, but nevertheless a fantastic bit of entertainment. Sorry, factual entertainment. Let’s hope it survives its enforced migration to BBC One.

3. The Returned
A chilling, occasionally-frustrating, but overall genuinely mesmerising drama which needs the mooted English-language remake about as much as Pierre needs a stockpile of tinned food.

2. Game of Thrones
The only show that, every Monday, turned the nation into a bunch of spoiler-fearing web-wusses. And as for the Red Wedding? *boke*

1. The Walking Dead
The quality has dipped here and there throughout the lifespan of The Walking Dead, but its recent return to form deserves serious applause. As gut-wrenchingly emotional as it is gut-munchingly gruesome.
While I’d ordinarily dedicate a post to the worst TV shows of the year, I figure maybe it’s best to turn over a new leaf and think more positively. Even the crappiest programmes had so much effort put into them, it’d be wrong to tear them apart.


Singles of 2013

Whaddaya mean, you’re sick of end-of-year Best Of lists?! Surely there’s time for a quick glimpse at the ten greatest songs of 2013? Especially as all the other lists are WRONG?

(For the record, the honour of worst song of 2013 is a toss-up between Gentleman by The Saturdays – for Christ’s sake, you dead-eyed mannequins, SPLIT UP ALREADY – and Eliza Doolittle’s Big When I Was Little, which rewrote the Official Rulebook of Clumsy Infantile Horse-Shit.)

10. Phoenix – Entertainment
While every gobshite with an MP3 player got all knotted up about Daft Punk returning in the form of a Harvester ad, French pop was far better represented by Phoenix, and this mighty serving of guitar goodness.

9. Little Green Cars – Big Red Dragon
One of the greatest riffs of the year – nay, the decade – came in Big Red Dragon, a highlight from the debut album of Dublin five-piece Little Green Cars. Sit back, relax and watch ‘em get all, like, mahoosive.

8. Jimmy Eat World – I Will Steal You Back
Look, it’s not The Middle, but nothing’s ever going to be. We’ve made peace with that.

7. Placebo – Too Many Friends
A pleasingly mental music video helped matters, but that’s not to detract from the song itself, which saw Placebo back at their darkly-melodic, astringent best.

6. Two Door Cinema Club – Changing of the Seasons
The very idea of Northern Irish indie-pop darlings Two Door Cinema Club hooking up with house tween Madeon was pearl-clutchingly horrifying. But oh, how wrong we were. Exquisite stuff.

5. Miley Cyrus – We Can’t Stop
Ignore the contrived smuttiness and clich├ęd lyrics briefly, and you’re left with a highly intriguing serving of space-age pop, thanks to the magic fingers of Mike Will Made It and a rather impressive vocal from Cyrus herself (something easily disregarded amidst all the femur-flashing).
4. We Are Scientists – Something About You
A FULL ALBUM coming in a little over two months, people. A FULL ALBUM.

3. Bastille – Pompeii
Like many a great song, Pompeii has been sacrificed to the Gods of Overkill (a huge thank you to unimaginative radio stations and promo producers the world over), but hey, they overplayed it for a reason.

2. Mutya Keisha Siobhan – Flatline
Its mere existence underlined the instability of the online fanbase and the stupidity of UK radio execs, but beneath the frothing frustration lay a magnificent, and sorely overlooked, track.

1. Vampire Weekend – Diane Young
Third album Modern Vampires of The City may not have been up to the overall standards of its predecessors, but this addictive little gem was by far and away the star of the show. 2013’s greatest advocate of repeat-button abuse.


Friday, December 20, 2013

Laterz an' ting

Guys. What are you even doing here? This place has been cordoned off for like a year!

Alas, a year on from the last post I wrote, I figured I should shut up shop for good. Much as I love writing a blog, a change in my employment means I'm writing pretty much all day, every day. And that's a very good thing. But it means the last thing I want to do when I get home is write some more.

However, fear not! I'll be blogging on a more ad-hoc basis over at mralfox.co.uk, so keep an eye out for my musings round those parts. And as far as I'm aware, The Sloppy Dog - which, if I'm wrapping things up, I should point out was a TERRIBLE name - will be left here for posterity. It'll be like visiting a museum, except with X Factor rants instead of priceless artefacts.

Thanks for reading. Genuinely.

Al xx

Saturday, December 22, 2012

The Sloppy Dog's Worst of 2012: Singles

It’s been the worst year for pop in living memory. Sad, but true. It’s everywhere, it’s of a staggeringly low quality, and nothing is challenging it. As a result, the worst ten singles of 2012 probably share quite a few entries with the biggest-selling singles of 2012. It should be noted, Rihanna’s only just missed out on a spot – luckily for her tawdry, tone-deaf self, the 233 singles she’s released this year have split the vote. Let’s begrudgingly take a look at those that did make our list…

10. Will.I.Am ft Mick Jagger and Jennifer Lopez - T.H.E. (The Hardest Ever)
Props must go to one of the few videos this year with something resembling imagination (and a half-decent budget), but the song itself was an absolute embarrassment. Quite how Mick Jagger was roped into this is baffling, though the fact a friend of ours mistook him for Fatman Scoop sort of says it all.

9. Sam & The Womp - Bom Bom
Balkan beats smothered in mutagen, with added horns, monkey screeches and the most ludicrous lyrics since… well, several other songs on this countdown. The video only added to the catastrophe, proof that something awful can become even more awful when sung by someone violently ugly.

8. Lawson - Taking Over Me
Lawson emerged in 2012 peddling the sort of beige, irrelevant man-pop that you’d forget minutes after hearing it. Entirely unimaginative with piss-weak sentiment, Taking Over Me relied entirely on an irksome “ooh-ooh-ooh” hook, which somehow made it a success. Come back, BBMak, all is forgiven.

7. Conor Maynard – Vegas Girl
It was obvious the ever-predictable music industry would attempt to create a British Bieber, but no-one would’ve banked on it being a warty pre-pubescent from Brighton. The watered-down R&B of Vegas Girl is bad enough in itself, but his ‘acting’ in the video redefines the very meaning of cringeworthy.

6. Ellie Goulding - Anything Could Happen
You’d have thought getting all horizontal with Skrillex might have dirtied her up a bit, but Ellie Goulding returned more bland and insipid than ever. Anything Could Happen was some wistful, repetitive cooing over a dreary loop, all in all amounting to a woolly Night Nurse hangover.

5. Alyssa Reid - Alone Again
Mercifully, this track only just missed out on a UK Number One spot back in February, but we’ve made sure it’s gotten its dues here. An entirely pointless Heart cover, with all its emotion ripped out and replaced with reedy, almost unlistenable vocals. Another one for the one-hit wonder countdown.

4. Taylor Swift - We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together
The first syllable of ‘country’ has never been so apt, and yet, this monstrosity saw Taylor Swift ditch the hee-haw genre for a serving of puerile, primary school awfulness. Like a Sweet Valley High parody in song form, it put a generally harmless artist well and truly on our shit-list.

3. Gotye - Somebody That I Used To Know
As refreshing and surprising as it is to see a downbeat folk ditty break through the Rihannacentric industry to become the biggest track of the year, it’s a shame it had to be this one. Morose, moronic and maddening, this complete whingefest took all of two seconds to become wholly unbearable.

2. Carly Rae Jepsen - Call Me Maybe
It’s depressing that something so offensively bad has managed to clock up over a million sales in the UK alone. Somehow, what could genuinely be the cheesiest song ever recorded (this shit makes S Club 7 sound like Philip Glass) became a global smash. Thankfully, her evil spell failed to infiltrate these quarters, and we can hear it for the genuine affront to pop music it really is.

1. Robbie Williams – Candy
Carly Rae Jepsen was the strong contender for the top spot this year, but she’s just (just) been pipped to the post by perennial resident of this list, Robbie Williams. We’d hoped Radio 1’s disdain for anyone over 25 might have a silver lining in a lack of success for Blobby, but alas, Candy was inescapable. A nursery rhymed raped and reshaped into an instrument of pure malevolence.

The Sloppy Dog's Best of 2012: Singles

The countdown of all things awesome and awful from the past twelve months continues with the more positive of the two. As has already been a theme throughout the end-of-year roundup, 2012's not been the greatest year musically, but the saturated singles market has actually thrown up a few gems, while a bit of digging also unearths some lesser-known treasures. Read on...

10. We Are Augustines – Philadelphia
Regular readers will know we have a penchant for a US band with a “We Are…” moniker, and thankfully, Brooklyn trio We Are Augustines haven’t broken the pattern. Philadelphia (The City of Brotherly Love), to give it its full title, was a warming portion of quietly-emotive, weathered indie, all heightened by Rob Allen’s intense drumwork.

9. Jay-Z & Kanye West – N****s In Paris
The very concept of hip-hop’s two biggest artists on the same record screams of an ill-advised “give away the farm” situation. But Paris is quite the opposite – the minimal, simplistic production does more than the most polished, precision-layered track ever could, and allows its stars to shine brighter than either has on their own in a long time.

8. Rizzle Kicks – Mama Do The Hump
Technically released in 2011, but before the cut-off point of last year’s list. Ugh, that sounds like some shit the Brit Awards organisers would come out with. Anyway, Mama Do The Hump proved to be the best thing Fatboy Slim has ever turned his hand to, expertly capturing the youthful, brilliantly-British fervour of Rizzle Kicks.

7. San Cisco – Beach
Representing Australia in our countdown – because frankly, Kath & Kimderella not being released in the UK yet is an utter travesty – it’s a Fremantle four-piece whose exquisite EP Beach was headed up by the hypnotic title track. Gentle, quirky indie melting into a gorgeous, aquatic burble of a chorus, it’s drummed up quite the appetite for a band who show the promise of big, big things.

6. David Guetta ft. Sia – Titanium
Titanium would’ve earned a higher place in this list had it not been sacrificed to the gods of overkill, but even then, it’s hard to detract from its good points. Guetta’s beats, often by-numbers, were harsh and haunting and hugely effective, while Sia’s truly unique vocals went to astronomical new highs on the gale-force chorus.

5. The Ghosts – Enough Time
We’ve already named The End as our favourite album of 2012, so it’s no surprise one of its singles has snuck its way in here as well. Debut single Enough Time acted as a warning that something very, very good was on the way, a pounding falsetto chorus amidst swirling electronica making for a seriously impressive track.

4. Howler – Back of Your Neck
Three minutes, eleven seconds of perfection. The gritty, unashamedly American indie-rock of Back of Your Neck was a genuine sit-up-and-pay-attention anthem, with commanding drumwork, laidback vocals, brilliantly extensive instrumentals, and best of all, absolute fuckloads of surf guitar.

3. Andy Burrows - Light The Night/Hometown
A late entry to the list, but what an entry it is. Each track on its own would warrant an entry, but as a double A-side, it’s goosebump-inducing perfection. The sensitive, stirring acoustica of Hometown and the sweeping fairytale enchantment of Light The Night mean Christmas playlists will have a much-needed dose of quality for decades to come.

2. The Vaccines – I Always Knew
Coming a very close second, The Vaccines utterly trumped all their previous material with the majestic I Always Knew. Brooding yet heroic, packed with the kind of stirring rock melodies we’d previously thought only Tim Wheeler could come up with, I Always Knew paired a very human sentiment with a superhuman aptitude for crafting an outstanding tune.

1. fun. ft Janelle Monae – We Are Young
And so we reach Number One. It's another track that’s been battered to buggery by overplay, but it was probably inevitable, given its distinctiveness and all-round brilliance. And it’s testament to what a strong song We Are Young is that it’s survived such ubiquity. While nothing on the Some Nights album came close to matching it, We Are Young was an introduction to band providing originality and a refreshing burst of heart and soul in a Top 40 almost entirely bereft of it.

Friday, December 21, 2012

The Sloppy Dog's Best of 2012: TV

It’s been a critical-space-on-the-TiVo-box kinda year, which is a way of saying there’s been no shortage of good TV, rather than it suggesting Virgin Media need to sort their software out. (Although they do.)

Alas, we never got round to the bleak Scandinavian knitwear-fests everyone told us to watch, but notable 2012 highlights have included the sharp, slick and hugely addictive Suits; the cutesy but cutting US sitcoms New Girl and Don’t Trust The Bitch In Apartment 23; a fitting end to Desperate Housewives after eight seasons; Only Connect's new status as impossibly-difficult national treasure; and The Almighty Johnsons finally finding its feet. But let us crack on with the boxset-worthy Top 10...

10. True Blood
It’s been inconsistent, but when True Blood is good, it’s very very good. Alas, this has been one of its weaker years, with the Bill-as-undead-fundamentalist plot shockingly bad, but even then, it’s head and shoulders above most of its contemporaries. And as Tara, Jessica and Pam remain three of the best characters on television, teaming them up was a genius move. Fangs crossed the next series gets its shit together.

9. Stella
A perfect example of Sky1’s new role as a true champion of British comedy, the hilarious and heartwarming Stella did exactly what Cougar Town failed to do – create a domestic/family-based sitcom that wasn’t twee and cosy. And aside from an impressive turn in front of the camera, Ruth Jones further proved her worth as one of Britain’s greatest comedy writers.

8. Indian Ocean with Simon Reeve
Quite often, a factual gem will sneak into our viewing habits amongst the filthy-humoured sitcoms and big neon entertainment shows – one such example was Indian Ocean, a compelling, eye-opening and hugely enlightening series. Kudos to Simon Reeve who presents his subject matter in the most accessible light, without dumbing it down. Frankly, he could do a series on Jiffy bags and make it feel like an adventure.

7. Sherlock
Another three-episode blast of groundbreaking British drama, another complete triumph. And the cliffhanger that saw Sherlock supposedly die has set things up very nicely for a third run. (For what it’s worth, we think he jumped into the rubbish truck, and sweet-talked whatsherface from the mortuary to doll up a tramp’s corpse to look like Sherlock. You wait and see.)

6. Twenty Twelve
A rare blend of subtle and uproarious, the highly-quotable Twenty Twelve came to an outstanding conclusion this year. The return of Olivia Colman was the perfect climax, even if the closing scene itself was a landmark in throwing-remote-at-the-telly demi-frustration. And its main legacy (or sustainability?) will be that no-one working in PR will ever be taken seriously again.

5. Game of Thrones
Glossy, epic and gloriously hammy, Game of Thrones was defiantly huge in an age of cuts and scalebacks. But the story itself was the true star, with George R.R. Martin’s work seamlessly brought to life by an impressive cast (minus the dreadful Aidan Gillen) and stunning production. Additional props for the greatest opening titles since the animated pigeon on The Good Life.

4. Trollied
Series One established Trollied as a sharply-observed, brilliantly-stylised and downright hilarious sitcom, but Series Two stepped it up massively. The initially-peculiar casting of Stephanie Beacham as Lorraine proved to be pure gold, not to detract from what’s probably the best overall ensemble performance this year. Genuinely brilliant stuff.

3. The Great British Bake-Off
Anything that makes such a spectacle of cakes, pies and biscuits is already a good thing. But turning such great subject matter into something so entertaining, so captivating, so genuinely gripping, is quite the achievement. Mel and Sue continue to be two of the greatest presenters on TV, while the likeable contestants and ever-professional judges show some of their flashier reality contemporaries how it’s done.

2. The Walking Dead
Just missing out on Number One is The Walking Dead, whose third series took it to whole new levels of brilliance. The snail’s pace frustration of Series Two was quickly accounted for in the third run, with unwavering action, some jaw-dropping character sacrifices and genuinely moving moments. And with some exceptional new additions to the cast (David Morrissey and Danai Gurira in particular), the rest of this series can’t come soon enough.

1. Homeland
Perhaps one of the most instantly-gripping pilot episodes ever, Homeland set itself up to be something pretty damn special from the outset. Offering up twists you’d never predict and answering questions Lost failed to do across six seasons, it’s a show that clearly gives a shit about its viewers. Add to that some inventive direction, bold subject matter, and stellar performances across the board, Homeland was easily 2012’s best new show.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

The Sloppy Dog's Best of 2012: Albums

2012’s been a funny old year for music (as the upcoming Best and Worst Singles list will testify), but amidst the bizarre chart victories, the succession of surprising flops, and the dominance of one particular genre, there’s been a few examples of greatness shining through as far as albums are concerned. Notable mention must go to Van Susans and We Are Augustines, but let’s get cracking on the ten greatest...

10. Andy Burrows - Company
A re-edit of our final ten for reasons best not addressed means Andy Burrows gets bumped up a spot. From thankless Razorlight drummer to a far more appreciated role in We Are Scientists, to co-frontman of Smith & Burrows, the folksy perfection of Company finally sees the fruition of a truly talented solo artist.

9. Feeder – Generation Freakshow
They’ve been patchy post-Pushing The Senses, but Generation Freakshow was a giant step back towards the Feeder we know and love. It’s a more mature offering, but it demonstrates a growth (as opposed to a U2-style attempt to cling onto youth), still packed with anthemic, intelligent rock.

8. Nicki Minaj – Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded
Admittedly, not the most consistent of albums, and certainly not something that’s easily-digestible, but Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded was testament to a truly unique entity. A fast-paced, infectious, day-glo explosion, which somehow melded glittery camp and ballsy hip-hop to surprisingly great effect.

7. Keane – Strangeland
Had this been the follow-up to Hopes & Fears, it would’ve been called lazy. But chasing two more explorative albums, it somehow makes sense, almost marking a journey back to what they do best, utilising the gained experience of Under The Iron Sea and Perfect Symmetry. A welcome return to form.

6. Imani Coppola – The Glass Wall
We’ll overlook the ill-advised dubstep breakdown to celebrate yet another album that bears witness to the genius of Imani Coppola. It seems she’s still incapable of putting her name to anything less than brilliant, and while the masses might not be on board just yet, The Glass Wall was a triumphant indie-soul gem.

5. Two Door Cinema Club – Beacon
Alex Trimble’s vocal turn at the Olympics Opening Ceremony showed him to have a surprisingly tender tone, but Beacon put him back in the guise he’s best known for – assured, quirky, and superbly-executed indie-pop. Building upon the greatest components of Tourist History, Two Door Cinema Club know their strengths and play to them with exceptional results.

4. BIGkids – Never Grow Up
Perfect pop, completely devoid of pretensions, courtesy of Mr Hudson and Rosie Bones. In a year where the pop genre morphed into a behemoth of bottom-drawer beats and unimaginative soullessness, BIGkids fought their corner with a knowing wink and a line-up of fun, breezy, yet high-quality, tunes.

3. The Vaccines – Come Of Age
Debut album What Did You Expect From The Vaccines made the right kind of noise, but this follow-up repeated the feat with a whole new ethos. Polished, confident and rousing, the aptly-titled Come Of Age expertly cut through the annoying buzz that surrounded their debut and cemented them as a band in it for the long haul.

2. Spector – Enjoy It While It Lasts
Just being beaten to first place, the debut of the year came from Spector. The London five-piece quickly established themselves as an act to get excited about, with Strokes/Vaccines-esque thumpers swathed in a heady mix of Sixties melodies, boyish charm and genuine grit. The kind of album a repeat button is made for.

1. The Ghosts – The End
Not to be confused with Ghosts – though aside from sharing a moniker, they also have in common the fact they’ve each been our Album of the Year. From the ashes of Ou Est Le Swimming Pool came this immense collection of electronic, melody-heavy indie, boasting huge choruses and hypnotic hooks. Alas, chart success evaded them, but in The End they produced a genuine masterpiece. Hey, what do the stupid public know?

The Sloppy Dog's Worst of 2012: TV

Our annual beady eye over the year’s pop culture offerings has come around again, and we’re kicking things off on a sour note – it’s time to reveal 2012’s worst television.
It’s worth pointing out that it’s far easier to avoid a bad TV show than it is to avoid bad music, so this list isn’t so much a definitive ‘most unforgivably awful things broadcast this year’ rundown – these ones were just unfortunate enough to have our gaze fall upon them. (And, as ever, assume Jeremy Kyle is a permanent Number One.)

10. Glee
Not too long ago, Glee was an exciting and entertaining show – albeit heavy on the cheese. But even the star turn from Jane Lynch can’t save it. The introduction of the atrocious Glee Project winner Damian McGinty didn’t help matters, but it was the dire Christmas episode that proved to be the true shark-jumper. RIP Glee.

9. Merlin
Perhaps Merlin’s inclusion on the list isn’t entirely fair – it’s significantly better than all other shows listed here, and in fact, better than a great deal else. But its slow-moving nature, its build-up to sweet FA and its premature axing before any kind of payoff made for a horribly frustrating show. It’s literally taken them five series to do absolutely nothing.

8. Cougar Town
What began life as a sharp, bold, semi-believable comedy soon melted down into a cosy, convenient family sitcom worryingly light on the laughs. A few constraints here and there might prompt writers to think outside the box. Alas, when your one punchline is ‘wine’, you’d need a few gallons yourself to enjoy this waste of airtime.

7. Question Time
Another show whose inclusion here might not be fully justified – it’s a simple yet effective format, which goes to great lengths to bridge the sizeable gap between politician and everyman. But the consistently cunt-packed panel, often trumped by hateful audience members airing some truly disgusting views, makes Question Time seriously uncomfortable viewing.

6 - 5. X Factor USA / The X Factor
The bubble had burst for The X Factor some time ago, but its continued existence is taking a mammoth dump on whatever good it once did as an entertainment show and/or talent search. The American version is painful to watch, the clearly-unwell Britney Spears wheeled out to read three syllables at a time. Meanwhile, the British version with its now-transparent flouting of the rules, entire lack of morals and largely loathsome talent somehow outdoes its transatlantic sister. Simon Cowell, you are a cunt. But, for your sake, give it up.

4. Hotel GB
Let’s round up all our talent! Except the ones with dignity! Let’s chuck ‘em all in a hotel, undertaking tasks with little or no relevance to their own skills! Let’s add in some unemployed folk to give it some heart! Let’s put cameras everywhere, like that show we gave to Channel 5! Let’s completely die on our arses!

3. The Midnight Beast
Apparently, this is funny to some people. Apparently, those people are missing at least two of their five senses. Fair play to The Midnight Beast for grafting their way to their own TV show, but the overplayed, smug knowingness of it all was fist-bitingly awkward to witness. (That, and the material absolutely stinks.)

2. Britain Unzipped
For all BBC Three’s foolish decisions (axing high-rating shows such as The Fades) and their sanctimonious spiel about making viewers ‘think’, they don’t half produce some shit. Britain Unzipped was approaching Eurotrash levels of tastelessness, a low being Holly Willoughby examining spunk stains in front of a live studio audience. License fee refund, please.

1. The Only Way Is Essex Live
The dreadfulness is baked right into the title, isn’t it? The show in its usual guise is an absolute abortion, so how they thought it would translate into a live special is a complete mystery. The plus side is that the missed cues, script cock-ups, and the most loathsome cuntrags on television finally put the nail in the bright orange, diamante-studded coffin.

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