Saturday, August 25, 2007

Single Reviews 27/08/07

This time last year, we were using the Single Reviews to highlight our support for Queen Aisleyne, the true winner of Big Brother 7. With this year’s final less than a week away, we feel we should do the same once again. Except there’s no-one worth drumming up support over. Maybe the twins at a push. Meh. Here, just read this lot instead…

Plain White T's start us off this week with a slice of drippy acoustica in Hey There Delilah. It’d make the perfect closing track of a great album, but is about as suitable as a lead single pushed in the hope of launching a new act as Jodie Marsh is a spokesperson for the Salesian Sisters. God knows what the rest of the album sounds like if this is the initial hope. It’ll do for now, mind.

Having realised there was no market for an awkward Home Counties boy uncomfortably stuffed into Abercrombie & Fitch styling in order to flog his sunburnt soul, Jamie Scott got himself a pretend band and reinvented himself as Jamie Scott & The Town. And yet, When Will I See Your Face Again is the same inexpressive, dull jazz-lite muzak he peddled before. Particularly unpleasant is the scat ad-libbing - if only there was some joke relating to the word ‘scat’…

If anyone in 2007 is going to outsell Rihanna and her fucking Um-ber-ella, it’s Sean Kingston. A congenial blend of reggae and doo-wop with a knockout melody, Beautiful Girls is the kind of thing Eamon would have absolutely killed for after Fuck It. Y’know, if he had any discernible talent. We’d probably have awarded it Single of the Week if we weren’t certain we’ll be absolutely sick of it within a fortnight.

...Instead, the Single of the Week honour goes - and not just by default - to Athlete, who’ve seemingly found their niche after a patchy debut and a safe second album. A decent balance of buoyant force and compelling melodies, Hurricane is everything it ought to be after the promise of Half Light, Tourist and Twenty-Four Hours.

And lastly, the return of Hard-Fi and the rise of Kate Nash have cemented that we’re not too keen on literal lyrics. It’s certainly where Natalie Imbruglia’s Best Of lead-in single Glorious falls down, as there’s not much to fault otherwise. A sunlit, upbeat pop song with unpretentious rock nods, it’s a nice way to bookend a career that’s seen a bit too much in the way of wistful stabs at credibility.

Friday, August 24, 2007

The 'Ump: The Sheilas

Ordinarily, we wouldn’t give donate any portion of our schedule to novelty records. They come around, you hate them for a wee bit, then they’re gone, only to emerge again on clip shows hosted by Jimmy Carr. But every so often, a novelty song comes along that cannot go unnoticed. IT MUST BE STOPPED.

Not content in providing us with the single most annoying advertisement on television (although it must be said, only because the Frosties ad with the little cunt on the cherry-picker isn’t airing at the mo), the three “Aussie” scutters from the Sheila’s Wheels ads have signed a record deal, the fruits of which are inexplicably getting rotation across several music channels.

A joke too far, you might think. But it would seem that it’s no joke - because everything Pete Waterman does is a sincere and momentous endeavour of artistry and musicianship. Yes, fucking Pete Waterman is to blame for this abomination.

This is a man who still believes that some form of foul play resulted in One True Voice being beaten to Number One by Girls Aloud. Of course, it could never be the fact that a genre-forging, iconic behemoth of a pop anthem towers a thousand miles above an anaemic, piss-smelling cover of a Bee Gees Z-side. No, it was definitely something sneaky and underhanded.

Is there perhaps a way of getting an injunction of some sort, that prevents Pete Waterman from ever setting foot in a recording studio for the remainder of his years? Of course, we needn’t worry about him bothering any kind of live venues - God forbid he saw what a live instrument was and regretted all that convincing synthy goodness.

So be warned, dear readers, for not only will your ad breaks continue to be sullied by the twin-headed beast of aural and comsumer rape courtesy of Sheila’s Wheels, they’ll be infiltrating show content, possibly airwaves, and undoubtedly minds. Be very, very afraid. And - if you’re the lucky owner of a vagina - maybe think about getting your car insurance somewhere that isn’t intent on murdering pop music…

Monday, August 20, 2007

Single Reviews 20/08/07

Yes, the Single Reviews are late. Very late. What, you want your money back or something? We’re actually recovering from the second leg of what we’re calling Weddingfest ‘07, where we learned that (a) Goan people know how to throw a party, (b) alcohol = bad, and (c) we finally live in a world where a Robbie Williams song clears a dance floor - jeez, longest wait for a backlash EVER. Anyhoo, on with proceedings, this week brought to you in association with Nurofen…

Hard-Fi are back (presumably having made it ‘back’ on the bus, where they jumped the fare, sat next to a crackhead, got into a fight with a skinhead, and pulled a right fit blonde in the process). Yes, they’re peddling the same old metaphor-free working-class schtick in Suburban Knights, although, as with Stars of CCTV, there’s also a sturdy melody and crunching, beefy guitars. Lyrics will be the death of Hard-Fi, mark our words.

Single of the Week is awarded to a young lady who’s already turned our heads, resulting in a pulled neck muscle, in the enchantingly blue Fed Up. However, Remi Nicole has cranked up the glee-o-meter for the memorable Go Mr Sunshine, a delightfully twee Britpop stomp-a-long that’s hopefully the mark of a future success story.

Calvin Harris continues his catastrophic spiral into utter shitdom with the laborious Merrymaking At My Place. Initially we thought perhaps he was a competent knob-twiddler that just hadn’t fully gotten accustomed to a microphone, but further exposure to his career has shown us that he is, in actual fact, Urban Cookie Collective in the body of an Etonian sixth-former.

Finally, having duetted with Kelly Rowland and come out the other side with a career intact, Eve deserves our respect as a given. Bearing in mind she was the sole good point in the aforementioned duet and Gwen Stefani’s Rich Girl, you’d think Tambourine would warrant champagne, fireworks and a national holiday. But, in reality, it’s just good. That’s all.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Honking Box Preview: The X Factor

Jeez, has this been a long time coming or what? With DanceX about as interesting as Kara-Louise from Big Brother, and Big Brother itself about as interesting as… well, Kara-Louise from Big Brother, the return of The X Factor couldn’t have come at a better time. Actually, it could have, as we’re attending a wedding on Saturday. Curses!

Still, the good ol’ hard-disk recorder can take care of that. Besides, we’re more concerned with the overall series, and the changes that’ll hopefully give the show a bit of a kick up the proverbial. Out goes Kate Thornton, and in comes Dermot O’Leary. Out goes Louis Walsh, in comes Dannii Minogue. Then in comes Louis Walsh again, bringing an entirely coincidental tidal wave of publicity with him.

Mind you, we’re sceptical about the new categories, in which kids as young as 14 can enter. And just a wee bit unenthusiastic about the presence of spazflaps supreme Fearne fucking Cotton taking over the ITV2 coverage.

Love or hate The X Factor, we’ve come up with a viewing method which will heighten the experience during the good bits, and hopefully drown out the bad bits altogether. Behold, the X Factor Drinking Game!

One sip if:
  • Coldplay’s Clocks or Snow Patrol’s Chasing Cars are used in the soundbed at any point throughout the show
  • Someone performs Umbrella by Rihanna using a prop of the same name
  • Simon tells a contestant they’re the worst singer he’s ever heard
  • Louis focuses on the geography of a contestant in order to garner regional popularity

  • Sharon mispronounces a musical term, e.g. a capella becomes acapello, vibrato becomes vibratio, harmonise becomes harmonify

  • A drink is thrown by any party

  • Dermot tells someone he is “loving their work”

  • A sped-up shot of a snaking queue is used

  • Fearne fucking Cotton makes the official hand gesture for ‘rock’
  • Simon blames the parents

Two sips if:

  • A backstory relating to an illness is told (either the contestant’s own, or that of a relative)
  • There’s a montage of auditionees performing Kylie songs, featuring a selection of cringes from Dannii

  • Sharon is called away to an emergency of some description
  • A blubbery mum with a home perm and tits under her arms storms in, claiming the judges were wrong
  • A contender from DanceX, Britain’s Got Talent or Any Dream Will Do makes an appearance
  • Tony, Official X Factor Meathead, is dispatched to ‘escort’ a contestant from the audition room

A huge gulp if:

  • Brian Friedman gets more than five minutes of screentime

  • The choirgirl who was too young last year doesn’t get fasttracked to Boot Camp
  • Addictiv Ladies make a return
  • Simon makes an allusion – however vague – to Louis’ sexual preference

Down the entire glass if:

  • A contestant performs a track by Elephant Man, Ani DiFranco, N-Tyce or Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci
  • Steve Brookstein’s name is uttered
  • Sinitta dresses demurely
  • Sharon wins

[The Sloppy Dog advises that alcohol should be enjoyed in moderation, and that you play the X Factor Drinking Game responsibly. However, it should also be noted that getting utterly shitfaced is far more fun.]

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Single Reviews 13/08/07

Hey, bored office workers! Fed up of numbers and reports and in-trays full of shit? Pissed off to bejesus because The Man has banned Facebook at your company? Fear not! Flock to The Sloppy Dog, where you can compensate for your lack of cyber-socialising with our wondrous Single Reviews. Mind you, we pride ourselves more on making enemies than adding friends, but still.

Amy Winehouse heads up this week’s singles with the first-rate Tears Dry On Their Own. While she pushes herself more and more into the public consciousness as a coke-addled, skeletal pisshead, her music continues to underline her significance and inimitability as an artist. A summery Sixties masterpiece, and a decent enough swansong should she drown in the next few months (either in Regent’s Canal or neat vodka).

The frenetic rock genius of the Pigeon Detectives is showcased perfectly in Take Her Back. It’s certainly less than a million miles from the superb I’m Not Sorry - in fact, they’re practically sharing a sleeping bag - but we can forgive a touch of repetition when the quality levels are this lofty. And hey, at least they’re consistent.

The return of The Polyphonic Spree is cause for celebration any day of the week, but comeback anthem Running Away is reason enough to burst an additional party popper. A somewhat less loony offering than previous material, yet still achieves that unique balance of raucous and choral. Admittedly, we prefer when they’re just a tad more crackers, but it’s a clear Single of the Week all the same. Hurrah, etc.

Lastly, having provided us with arguably the greatest album of 2007 so far, Ghosts don’t have to do much to win our approval. Which may go some way to explaining the release of one of the less remarkable tracks from The World Is Outside, the eponymous Ghosts. Sure, it’s an inspired work of brilliance… it just isn’t Stop, Mind Games or Musical Chairs. Yeah, yeah, everyone’s an A&R man these days…

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Kate Nash - Made of Bricks (Polydor)

You've all seen the propaganda for Limited Edition Coca-Cola with Orange, right? It's hard to miss the posters and the magazine ads and the in-store displays. And, in fairness, it doesn't sound like too bad an idea, does it? So you try it. And you soon discover that it tastes like the devil's ballbag.

It's all rather similar to Kate Nash, and moreover, her overhyped debut Made of Bricks. You may question comparisons to the above fizzy evil, but the mixture of initial eye-catching promise soon deflated by the sticky, artificial taste sums both products up rather aptly.

What some may hear as simplified, stripped-bare charm is actually awkward, oafish chatter, most of which sounds as though it's been made up on the spot. Shockingly bad lyrics are in abundance on Made of Bricks, as demonstrated to its fullest on Mouthwash ("I've got a family/And I drink cups of tea") and matched only by stinking grammatical errors (see Dickhead's irksome "Why you being a dickhead for?"), which feel horribly contrived just to achieve the same cod-working-class schtick that made Blur such utter fuckwits.

There are a couple of high(er) points - the engaging journey recounted in the loony acceleration of Mariella is certainly impressive, until Nash chooses to tell the story in the style of Russell Brand. Meanwhile, Birds sees a lone moment of tender sincerity, but is entirely washed away by the neverending torrent of cringeworthy Mockney squawking.

The production is the one true redeeming feature, but rather than rescuing the album from Nash's gobby pigswill, it just invokes a feeling of pity that the tracks weren't used on more worthwhile artists. Just considering the genius that Amy Winehouse could have conjured over the music of We Get On, or the cyber-R&B sorcery Amerie could have applied to Play only serves to highlight Made of Bricks as an even bigger waste of time.

From start to finish, Made of Bricks is like Jennifer Saunders ad-libbing a parody of Lily Allen. Which in itself would be funny, yet Kate Nash appears to be entirely serious. Sure, there's a level of talent and some highly unique qualities there, but it all just feels very, very fake, and gets boring very, very quickly. Like Coca-Cola with Orange, it's first and foremost a money-spinning gimmick. But luckily, just like Coca-Cola with Orange, you needn't worry about it being around much longer.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Single Reviews 06/08/07

Our dear readers, we can only apologise for the lateness of this week’s Single Reviews. But hey, you saw what the weather was like - it’d be rude not to celebrate the glorious summer weekend that God blessed us with. And that’s one person you don't wanna piss off, right? And we’re also hoping you didn’t notice the complete lack of Single Reviews last week…

Leading the pack (in chronological terms only) are Elliot Minor, who follow up their watery debut with the far superior Jessica. While your considered post-listen retort may be to step back and judge the overall package, it’s nigh on impossible to deny the command of the infiltrating, dominant melody. Then you remind yourself it’s about Jessica Alba, and the tidal wave of tack washes the lot away.

Sadly, the entire concept of postmodern irony is wholly lost on a mass audience, if the performance of Darren Hayes’ last album is any indication. Thankfully, he hasn’t strayed too far back to the cesspool of Savage Garden balladry, with On The Verge Of Something Wonderful instead opting for a radio-hewn wedge of electro-lite merriment. Still totally one for the mums, mind.

Already fixing its proverbial beady on the upper stratums of the fucking shambolic hoax of a British music chart Top 40, it’s safe to assume we’ll be hearing a great deal more from Robyn featuring Kleerup this summer. After the messy-at-best Konichiwa Bitches, the bewitching With Every Heartbeat is a far greater envoy for the juggernaut of Robyn-focussed hype.

Finally, one of the most inspired illustrations of sampling in years comes via Kanye West, with the outstanding Stronger. While most of the credit must go to Daft Punk, it’s still hard to believe he’s managed to redress the Complete Fucking Cock levels he achieved at last year’s MTV Europe Music Awards, but if there’s anything that can save an artist - quite simply - it’s a great song. Single of the Week, provided he doesn’t throw another big girl hissy fit anytime soon.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Honking Box Preview: DanceX

We love a good talent show here at The Sloppy Dog, or at least, until our favourite gets ousted. And even then, there remains the dubious yet undeniable pleasure of heckling the telly when the shittiest option comes on (see Ashley X Factor, Chris Moyles on Celebrity X Factor, Peter Brame on Fame Academy, yadda yadda yadda times infinity).

Yet the BBC's latest project, DanceX, is leaving us sat on a particularly grey fence. It's just hard to muster up anything other than bewilderment at the horrendous use of the English language from Arlene Phillips, whose ever-flowing simile/metaphor fountain grows more peculiar and pornographic with every use.

The whole premise of the show sees Arlene and Bruno Tonioli each heading up a dance troupe. End of. No, really, that's it. Apparently at the end of the series, the winning group will actually become a full-on recording act. But hang on - isn't this about dance? Is this why a random dumpy girl named Claire is positioned at the side bellowing into a mic while her teammates gyrate wildly centre-stage?

Now that's something to look forward to - not just a clone of the Pussycat Dolls, but a cut-price UK adaptation featuring lumpy, misshapen checkout staff from the Wirral. It'll be sort of like if Five remade Lost, filmed on Sark using a PD-150, featuring Todd Carty as Jack and Lesley Joseph as Kate.

Yet even the competition aspect is hard to get into. Having divvied the dancers into two groups, the mix of aceness and lameness is evenly spread throughout two groups. Take Team Bruno, for instance - it boasts Rana, the unequivocal star of the show, yet she's forced to share a stage with the awkward, mincey Daniele and the brutally-faced Phoenix, who appears to have absolutely no bones anywhere in his skull area.

Similarly, Team Arlene carries the charismatic Daniel and the quirky Ife, yet is tainted by Ashley, who seems to have strayed in from an under-10s tap school by mistake.

Perhaps it'll be worth keeping an eye on solely for the pantomime antics of Bruno and Arlene, whose staged, contrived and frankly retarded arguments are worthy of Big Brother's halfway house. Perhaps we may end up with an lively, exciting pop group at the end of proceedings. Or perhaps we'll consume DanceX as nothing more than a mere stop-gap until The X Factor begins. Guess which one we're plumping for?

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