Monday, October 30, 2006

Single Reviews 30/10/06

You’ll have to excuse the lateness of this week’s Single Reviews, but we wanted to hear Upper Street’s chart position before addressing anything else, Gawd bless ‘em. Much as we love Roseann, we can’t help but blame Concept Records for the diabolical No. 35 placing. With an artist roster reading like a line-up of standby Love Island contestants, everything Concept touch turns to runny shit. Let’s hope they snap up some of this week’s chart efforts…

Generally, we’re not fans of the drunken McHouse peddled by the erstwhile Jamiroquai, a rule which applies to new single Runaway, but comedy tosspot hats off to Jay Kay – forging an entire career from re-recording the same song under 30 different titles is certainly an accomplishment. That said, Tenacious D would have done well to stick to their tried-and-tested patented kookiness. Pick Of Destiny is indeed a box-ticking, amusing rock-titter but it suffers heavily for the simple fact it’s not Fuck Her Gently. Still, it’s Single of the Week here at Sloppy Dog Towers.

Picture the scene. It’s 8:30am. You’re stuck on a heaving [insert public transportation relevant to your locality here] with an outsized beast of a man severely infringing your personal space. Eight hours later, you can still smell him. His breath, his BO, his greasy hair. It will not leave your nostrils. Each time you think of it, you throw up in your mouth just a little. Now, imagine that feeling in song form, and you’re presented with I Write Sins Not Tragedies by obnoxious, sub-emo, juvenile bellyachers Panic At The Disco. An entire world of Fuck Off And Die.

Last up, further belly-laughing in the unsightly, careerless faces of Lee Ryan and Duncan James, Coming Around Again is likely to maintain the surprise success of Simon Webbe with yet another semi-memorable gospel-coloured number crafted specifically for the Magic market. A one-man Lighthouse Family for the digital age.

…but we’d still put a tenner on him being roped into Totally Boyband 2.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Single Reviews 23/10/06

Dear readers, before we tackle this week’s Single Reviews, let us remember a significant anniversary – it’s six years to the day that the final Spice Girls single was released. Had The Sloppy Dog existed as anything more than a transient notion back in 2000, it’s fair to say Holler would have been the most easily-guaranteed Single of the Week EVER. As a mark of remembrance, we declare that October 23rd is Holler Day, a tribute to an R&B pop classic light years ahead of its time. Hoo-ray! Hoo-ray! It’s a Holler Holler Day! Etc, etc.

BeyoncĂ© is woman who we respect for openly praising Holler back when approximately only 12 other people liked it, but is more often than not a woman we could care less about. However, she’s fucking nailed it for the first time since Crazy In Love via the gorgeous Irreplaceable. Like a quietly-urban take on Natalie Imbruglia’s Torn, we’re spared the jiggling power-diva and presented with a capable musician. Ten quid says she nicked the song off Kelly Rowland.

Next up, a one-off column we like to call The Oooh-Zone. Thank God it’s a one-off, as that name would get pretty old pretty quick. Both releasing oooh-themed tracks this week are The Kooks with the dreary, beige, humdrum Ooh La, and the patchy-at-best Girls Aloud who cap their career thus far with Something Kinda Ooooh, which reads like a culmination of all their bestest bits, boosted by an injection of original sparkle. To summarise, the former should be thoroughly ashamed for not living up to the excitement induced by an oooh-referencing title, and the latter should be kept as far away from the disgustingly poor video as is practicable – thus concluding The Oooh-Zone on Holler Day. Sweet Jesus, we should be shot.

Having a voice that could grate refrigerated cheddar at 100 paces, and being hazardously close to Fergie and Mary J. Bilge (still not a typo) in the rankings of Mingingest Musician Ever, we’ve never been too keen on gruffty tramp-bag Amy Winehouse. But the powers contained within comeback single Rehab are too great to even begin fighting. Sixties girl group doo-wop meets smoky, fuck-the-lot-of-youse digi-jazz, this is what Christina Aguilera’s calamitous Back To Basics “project” should have sounded like, and is our Single of the Week. Mind you, it’s no Holler.

Despite providing us with arguably the most disappointing debut album in years, we’re truly thankful to have The Magic Numbers back, particularly in the form of Take A Chance, another heavenly gem which hopefully indicates the quality of the forthcoming album better than Forever Lost did. And finally, we come to a band that we feel we have a special connection with – not because we like them, but because they’ve provided countless unintentional mirth over the past couple of months. Upper Street finally hit the shops with The One, not a disastrous song in itself, but turn the volume way up and you’ll faintly hear Roseann sending the buying teams off to HMV while Jonathan Shalit’s back is turned. God help the poor bastards.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

The 'Ump: US5

The relationship between a popstar and their manager can often be a rather interesting one. We've all seen first-hand the marital management hilarity between Sharon and Ozzy, the slightly sinister iron fist of Joe Simpson over the Sisters Dim, and Beyoncé out-megalomaniac'd by her own poppa.

But just when you think management tactics couldn't get any more bizarre, and just when you think popstars couldn't get any more stupid, enter US5. The band, essentially early 1996 in human and musical form, are huge in Germany, apparently huge in America, and want to be huge in the UK. Cue a string of Random FM roadshows to an audience of nine, a TMF show to an audience of approximately half that, and more dogged determination than Tara Reid wiping the regurgitated daiquiris from her cleavage as she staggers into her 16th audition of the day.

Here we see one of the band's management - deputising for insulated pop kraken Lou Pearlman - revealing the debut single's UK chart position to a pant-pissingly anxious US5...

Actual chart position? 38.

Is this an example of management controlling their artist right down to governing their blinking techniques and regularity of bowel movements, or akin to congratulating your retarded child on presenting you their finger-painting of a supposed helicopter?

Friday, October 13, 2006

Single Reviews 16/10/06

Seeing as recent Honking Box columns more often than not morph into The 'Ump, it's nice to get back to the good ol' Single Reviews. Not that our rants weren't justified. Bloody Dionne over Jonathan?! Do you not have eyes and ears, Mrs O!?!? *kicks, screams, takes ritalin and puts a block on ITV1*

James Morrison begins proceedings this week, shrewdly squirming his way out from the Blunt-forged pigeonhole we imagine he’s justly sickened by. Wonderful World is a rough-around-the-edges quasi-ballad with a cheeky wink, though at the risk of sounding like his key demographic, we maintain a haircut wouldn’t go amiss.

Single of the Week goes to the Ordinary Boys, having rush-recorded a third album before rigor mortis finally sets in to Preston’s depleted eminence. Lonely At The Top tackles Mr Chantelle’s blatant awkwardness at being part of the OK! elite, but within the package of a catchy, assured anthem. Those laddish, ska-lite small-fries we came to love two years back are still there, beneath the gloss and Tigi gift bags.

Only two singles into their career, and we’re already a bit fed up with Rogue Traders. Voodoo Child got pretty stale pretty quick, and unfortunately Watching You closely follows the same formula. Were it not for Natalie Bassingthwaite having the greatest surname since we served a Mr Squelch in Sainsbury’s at the age of 17, we’d be wiping our proverbial battycrease with this right about now.

Finally, in what has to be one of the most hilarious cover set-ups in throughout the lifespan of recorded music, one-man sitcom Meatloaf awkwardly tackles It’s All Coming Back To Me Now, a number from the repertoire of Celine Dion – without a trace of sarcasm. Attempt to remove your mind from the mental image of Meatloaf doing Celine Dion, and you’re left with a big-budget rock-opera detonation of hamminess, which ticks all the relevant ‘Loaf boxes: faceless Latina supermodel providing backing vox; suitable for use with wind machine; boldly theatrical; bit crap. Check, check, check and CHECK.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Honking Box Review: Robin Hood

It would appear Auntie Beeb is incredibly lucky indeed. Spanking new shiny idents, a lucrative England game, the return of Strictly Come Dancing, and the arrival of a big-budget hard-sell drama ALL ON THE SAME NIGHT? What are the chances?!

Sadly for the Corporation, The Sloppy Dog’s Honking Box was tuned tensely to The X Factor (which, FYI, gutted) meaning we only caught a brief glimpse of the above mezze. Robin Hood, supposedly crafted for an audience only detected when Doctor Who annihilated the ratings, has been inescapable hype-wise. Hype which we certainly fell for, but ultimately hype which led to a complete lack of substance.

Aside from the campest Sheriff of Nottingham feasible, an overcast Eastern European bleakfest doubling as Sherwood Forest, the creepy priest out of Hex portraying some sort of backwards kitna child, and Robin himself owning absolutely no trace of heroism, the show overall was just incredibly, hopelessly boring.

Robin Hood should be a cocky yet lovable rogue with a razor-sharp tongue and a glint in his eye, not a small child with an unkempt beard lording it up over the muddy paupers. Perhaps our opinions have been tainted by the Disney version (like, when did Robin stop being a fox?!), but surely both the legend and the Saturday night family viewing remit demand at least a slight sense of fun?

Don’t get us wrong, we weren’t expecting a chorus of Father Bloopy or the first incarnation of the Hamster Dance, but grim ‘n’ grey is not the way forward. Had Jonathan not been criminally turfed out of The X Factor, we’d have categorically boycotted this show. As it stands, we may give it one more chance – if there aren’t any updates from Sunday 15th onwards, it’s safe to assume it drove us to suicide.

Single Reviews 09/10/06

Kids! Time to come in! Your Single Reviews are on the table! And if you don’t finish them, you don’t get any dessert.

Back with what has to be one of the most implausibly daft schemes in contemporary music, My Chemical Romance establish their forthcoming joke of concept album with Welcome To The Black Parade. Apparently it’s about one man’s realisation of his own mortality in the shadows of the afterlife, but comes off like a French & Saunders parody of Beetlejuice. Absolutely fucking horrendous. Semi-props to them for not being another Panic At The Disco, mind.

Another band who should be commended for not resting on their laurels are Placebo, whose new single Meds is about as far from the majesty of Nancy Boy or Every You Every Me as is humanly possible. It’s certainly nowhere as immediate or as capable, but with the acidic purr of Alison Lockhart on guest vocals combined with the tense, rolling licks, it’s more than enough to warrant our Single of the Week honour.

Inducing comas up and down the country, it’s a wonder Corinne Bailey Rae hasn’t been given a life sentence. Producing yet another snooze-along that fails to equal the fluorescent folk of Put Your Records On, the puny Like A Star will probably be the one track to kill most dinner parties throughout middle England since the Lighthouse Family’s Lifted.

Somehow warranting a re-release this week is Over & Over, a demonstration of the lukewarm electro-goof sounds of Hot Chip. We’d put money on this becoming one of those tracks that becomes a perennial re-issue of desperation, a la Iris by the Goo Goo Dolls, or Longview’s Further. Reckon if we ask Ladbrokes nicely, it might happen?

Finally, a world of bless for the admirable attempts of Blazin’ Squad, taking another stab at reclaiming their titles as crown princes of chavdom, despite being bereft of a couple of members. Well, 60% of their members, to be precise. Whether the presence of Kenzie would have improved their chances remains an enigma, but it’s safe to say All Night Long is flimsy, pointless crap-hop in any incarnation. Gottta love that determination though, eh?

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Honking Box Preview: Totally Boyband (again!)

We’re aware it’s only been approximately, like, a day since we last flagged up the treat-for-your-nasty-side that is MTV’s Totally Boyband. But, against all our better judgment, we’re discovering that this series just gets more and more watchable.

But it’s nothing to do with Upper Street themselves that makes the show what it is. Sure, we’re loving the uninhibited bitchiness that we never thought a group of heterosexual males could be capable of. Lee’s patented camera-nods remain as pathetically funny as ever. And it must be cited that Bowers is actually quite the comic. However, the bona fide star of the show is Roseann McBride, a true work of evil amongst a blue bus full of dribbling dolts.

Visually somewhere between Victoria Newton and Grotbags, and deafeningly loud, pushy beyond comprehension and downright frightening, Roseann works for Concept Records – a company that proudly hangs posters of Phixx and Jamie Benson on their walls. Upper Street are in good hands, eh?

This week’s episode sees a showdown between Roseann and band manager Jonathan Shalit, who seems to be a nice chap but looks, talks and dresses like a Wind In The Willows character. Pivotal line: "Did you just hang up on me, you cunt?!"

We’re crossing EVERYTHING that Totally Boyband is capable of raising Roseann’s profile enough to make her a quasi-celebrity in her own right. It is a necessity that this woman and her harrying wickedness become a global entity, for the sole purposes of our sick viewing gratification.

Just imagine sticking her in Celebrity Fit Club, leaving seven foot of dietary drill sergeant crying for his teddy, while she stomps off defiantly to enjoy a plate of deep-fried pork pies in batter and Max Bloom’s testicles. Or what if Roseann had participated in the recent Celebrity Wife Swap? Even Edwina Currie was no match for John McCririck, but our Roseann would soon see the toxic womble off. Go, Rosie.

Oh, and there’s a boyband involved somewhere, isn’t there? Lee finally gets the chop this week, cramming in a bevy of Latchtastic lines before he disappears. Amongst his closing quotes, he describes his voice as "hussy". Bless.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Evanescence - The Open Door (Wind-Up)

Evanescence have never been the coolest band in the world, have they? Sure, they turned a few heads a couple of years back, but post shock tactics, they’re often dismissed as little more than a gaggle of church camp loners crafting metal-for-beginners. So, with the release of their second album, have they managed to sneak out from under this niche?

The changes musically aren’t necessarily as vast as the changes personnel-wise, although this does alter the dynamic of the band noticeably. With The Open Door we’re granted Evanescence as a band, rather than an angsty soloist fresh from Lilith Fair. The immediate impression of deep feminine vigour is proven to be little more than an aesthetic marketing implement, soon giving way to the blokey, sweaty, roadie-rock provided by Amy Lee’s counterparts. Not that she doesn’t shine throughout – there’s clearly a star of the show, but the substance is undoubtedly the result of a group effort.

The superior freshness of Bring Me To Life as a launch single led to some bemusement with breakthrough album Fallen, for the most part an anthology of ghostly refrains. The Open Door is the album that Fallen promised to be; an energetic, emotive matrimony of gothic and space-age.

The dizzying Lacrymosa and the insistent Call Me When You’re Sober are among the numbers that dictate the tone of the album. Still, it’s not without its poignant endeavours, the darkly prickly ballad Like You and the menacing tranquil of Lose Control illustrating the aggrieved tones developed on their debut. Overall, it makes for a grand array of tracks on which to emphasise the range of Lee’s voice, extending from ethereal murmurs to operatic hollers.

The Open Door isn’t just menstruarock for stroppy adolescents. It may not be the pioneering album Fallen arguably was, but it’s certainly a natural progression from the prototype. Evanescence’s biggest crime is that they’re successful. And in this album, it’s something they’ll be even guiltier of.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Honking Box Preview: The X Factor

It’s come to our attention recently that an admission that you watch The X Factor is usually met with a disapproving grumble. So we’ve chosen to champion this shining example of trash genius and wax lyrical in the face of the haters – behold, as The Honking Box extols the wonders of Saturday night’s current treasure trove of low culture...

With the final selections about to be made, the show is at its apex – let’s face it, the ropey renditions of If You’re Not The One once the live shows begin replace the addictive aspect with toe-curling mortification worse than the audition rounds.

In true Sloppy Dog fashion, we’ll dish out the unpleasant analysis first, as that’s what comes naturally. Now, him out of Eton Road. You know the one – all campness and collarbone. Visually, we’ve come to the conclusion he’s a small part Jake Shears tribute act, a large part Paul O’Grady, and just a smidge of Roswell incident. Vocally, he’s not bad. And they’ve induced the first ever worthwhile line to leave the rancid gob of Louis Walsh (the details are foggy, but it was along the theme of "oh no, four hairdressers"). But are we the only ones who want to take a shower for every second of screen time the razor-boned gurner receives?

We're already bored with Simon Cowell's unfaltering praise of Ashley. He has the face of a terminally ill Chris Martin, the barnet of a homeless Macy Gray and a voice on par with June Sarpong for sheer annoyance. History has taught us that people this aggravating generally do pretty damn well, so we're hoping to build up enough tolerance antibodies to get through the live shows without booting in the telly.

So, onto the bits we actually like, not that we don’t enjoy the above car accidents – it’s all part of the X Factor experience. We’ve lost Identical, who were shaping up to be this year’s comedy entrant (previous years have given us Chico and Two To Go), so it’s up to The Unconventionals who we predict will provide us with hysterical six-part a capella doo-wop versions of Why Does It Always Rain On Me and Oops I Did It Again.

Having only just recovered from the gutting blow that saw Addictiv Ladies go Fila-over-weave at the first hurdle, we're reluctant to back another underdog. Which isn't too hard, as this year's underdog - six-year-old jelly-legged Sean - is like your annoying younger cousin being pushed by Mammy to sing "his" favourite Ronan Keating song at a family christening with dried ice cream round his snotty mouth.

So instead, we're opting to back Jonathan, better known as The One Wot Looks After His Mum. Of course, all X Factor contestants must be defined by their tale of sorrow, be it The One Wot's In A Wheelchair, or The One Wot Sang Bonnie Raitt At Her Mum's Funeral, or The One Wot Tripped Over A Large Dog And Broke Her Back. And for those who didn't see, that last one was a genuine entrant's genuine backstory. Kate Thornton deserves a medal for not collapsing in a puddle of piss and giggles.

But we digress. Aside from being mentored by Sharon Osbourne, the greatest talent show judge since Nina Myskow and her pink-blazered anger on New Faces, Jonathan is (a) a tremendously nice guy, (b) non-sickeningly-warbly, (c) non-ugly, and (d) non-Ashley. To summarise, The Sloppy Dog hearts Jonathan. He's no Aisleyne, but sadly she's not here to heart (although her Fix Up, Look Sharp would've at least got her to Boot Camp).

Saturday will tell us whether we’re anywhere near correct in our predictions/unwanted opinions, but right or wrong, it’s fair to say it’ll be massively entertaining. Now, if you’ll excuse us, we have to go usher some large dogs away from some stairs, before they have someone’s spine out...

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Single Reviews 02/10/06

Having recovered from the blistering disappointment that was the Lost finale, we’ve finally scraped ourselves off of the floor in an attempt to resume normal life. And, as if we’re sat in a dark room pushing buttons that will temporarily defer the apocalypse, we’re frantically tapping away at the keyboard to bring you this week’s Single Reviews (and also to Google what the hell those Russians were about).

Ill-advised skinny white jeans ahoy! Naturally, it can only be sabertoothed minstrel Johnny Borrell and the tremendous Razorlight. Apologies for the hammily stagy opening, but there’s little positive to say about America, the somewhat unfortunate follow-up to In The Morning. A noble recital of aceness as far as the verses are concerned but a seemingly endless yawn festival when the chorus lands.

Single of the Week, oddly, is a track that was released approximately twelve years ago and has hung around like a.... well, quite a nice smell, really. Bedouin Soundclash are presumably coerced into officially re-releasing When The Night Feels My Song, a soothing dub-lite ditty that transcends the Vodafone stigma with ease.

So of course, it only makes sense that we go from a calming, tuneful sonnet, to an unspeakable noise possibly utilised for questioning silent detainees at Guantanamo Bay. Bob Sinclar ditches his sundrenched whistle-along brand in favour of Rock This Party. Why anyone would try to recreate the sound of Fatman Scoop when they’re lucky enough not to be Fatman Scoop is beyond perplexing.

Next up, we see Diddy stepping out from his role as businessman, mogul, manager and all-round twat to return to the artist spotlight on diluted R&B tedium Come To Me, bringing with him Nicole Scherzinger. Frankly, there’s not a whole lot of difference when she’s not flanked by her ladies in waiting, but next to Diddy it’s even clearer to see she’s little more than a tribute J-Lo drag act at a local low-rent gay cabaret.

Finally, it literally induces bile to consider the release of Jump In My Car, the new single from David Hasselhoff. Aren’t we bored of this yet? Is there REALLY a market for something that also requires you to use up an entire year’s worth of irony? It’s finished, it’s done, there’s nothing left to forward. Go away. And FYI, any Sloppy Dog friends/relatives considering contaminating our inbox with yet another “Hoff iz the cooooolest!!” email, you can bog off too.
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