Friday, November 23, 2007

Single Reviews 26/11/07

You’ll have to excuse the rather sparse updates here at The Sloppy Dog of late. A mixture of arranging birthday parties, handing in letters of resignation, whipping ourselves into a froth of excitement at the prospect of Victoria Beckham on Ugly Betty, and life-or-death open-heart surgery. One of those may not be true. Please accept our lamest excuses humblest apologies, and enjoy this week’s Single Reviews

Paramore lead the pack this week, in review order only, though - definitely not in terms of quality. Aside from the shameless, barefaced ripping-off of No Doubt’s Hey Baby video, artwork and general soul, CrushCrushCrush provides sod all to write home about. Rather like a budget Evanescence with hip motion, this is little more than Bratz Go Emo.

A very welcome return to the tremendous Estelle, whose criminally underrated album, singles and overall status thankfully haven’t prohibited the arrival of her second album. Heralded in by the skill Wait A Minute (Just A Touch), even the mouldy touch of Will.I.Am thankfully can’t taint one of Britain’s brightest stars. Shuffling beats peppered with fleeting parps of brass, it’s a perfect partner for Estelle’s incomparable style.

While Sean Kingston’s mahoosive Beautiful Girls was equal measures of gimmicky and tiresome, it wasn’t difficult to see why it reached the heights it did. So, in a further aping of Eamon’s career, his second single is a wishy-washy pseudo-ballad that’s unlikely to bother the upper regions of the chart. So although Me Love may be a throwaway, reggae-tinged pop nonentity, let’s be thankful he hasn’t spawned his own Frankee…

With possibly their most mature single to date, Girls Aloud ease us into their fourth album after the cacophony that was Sexy! No No No. The slick, sophisticated Call The Shots may not carry the same level of excitement that previous upbeat material held, but it matches Whole Lotta History as a demonstration that Girls Aloud can pull off earnest rather well. (Who’s Ernest, fnar fnar, etc etc…)

After breaking - marginally - away from the drippy X Factor standard with his previous, shall we say, experimental double A-side, Shayne Ward dives straight back into the empty sentiment of his debut with Breathless. Were it not for his own brand of endearingly oafish childbirth-related lyrics, this could be the work of any tween-throb, boyband, or even twilight-era crooner.

Finally, unveiling a full-throttle anthem of genius are Editors (who we had to do an extensive Googling over just to determine the existence of a “the” prior to “Editors”). The Racing Rats easily scoops our Single of the Week, far surpassing their previous prevalent single Smokers Outside The Hospital Doors, and arguably, a big ol’ chunk of their first album. Finally, we’re actually getting the hype.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Honking Box Review: I'm A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here

Ah, the return of I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here. The only show on television guaranteed to score more front covers than Big Brother, if only because The Sun and The Star dedicate half the front page to a new-levels-of-gratuitous photo of Myleene/Jordan/Sophie/Carol Thatcher washing their norks, regardless of the mass murder headline that accommodates the other half of the page.

In truth, we've only ever invested in one series, which was the 2004 carnival of lunacy. A year where John Lydon pussied out, then claimed it was rebellion rather than out-and-out spinelessness; where Peter met Jordan, increasing his stock 1000% while all but vaporising hers; where Kerry Chip-Shop won over the nation before heading on a downward slope to drugs, hostage situations and pop-pop chicken; and where Jennie Bond was the true unsung hero of the series.

Last year we were subjected to a torrent of "OMG PHINA BIT SCOTT OMG LOL!!" from friends and colleagues, but let's take a moment to consider what this sentence actually represented: a woman whose CV reads "fleeting cameo in Buffy" in 72 point, sinking her teeth into a weasely little man who once wrapped a pipe cleaner around Tina fucking Barrett. That, ladies and gents, is the perfect example of why we lost interest.

But this year's series is promising to be the stuff of reality legend. It was only the presence of Cerys Matthews that prompted us to tune in, and in honesty, we were expecting it'd prompt us to hammer out an 'Ump column. This is a woman whose career is both existant and relevant, if a little on the quiet side. Why exactly did she sign up? And yet, no matter, as she's proving to be highly entertaining and incredibly likeable, and we're not just saying that because she provided us with the second best single of last year.

And of course, Janice Dickinson cannot go unmentioned. It has to be confessed that America's Next Top Model doesn't make regular appearances on the Sloppy Dog V+ Box (cue our entire female and gay readership hurling large objects in disgust) but we now see what we've been missing out on - a seething, snarling generator of legendary one-liners. If anyone's going to slap that repugnant lizardy smile off the rubbery chops of Katie Hopkins, it'll be Janice. Here's hoping…

So, all things considered, this is shaping up to be quite an interesting viewing prospect. Of course, we don’t know who the jiggins most of the remaining celebrities are, so should Cerys or Janice make an early exit, we’ll be switching over irately. Until then, pull up a khaki campbed and pour yourself a nice cup of koala jism, it looks as though our winter nights are all booked up…

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Single Reviews 12/11/07

As winter approaches - as this week’s weather has certainly underlined - may we suggest that you wrap up warm, stick the kettle on and stay indoors? Lookit, we have some Single Reviews to keep you entertained! C’mon, who needs sunshine when you’ve got this kind of derisive criticism?

Opening this week’s proceedings is Alicia Keys, putting her voice under all kinds of duress to match the rock zenith presumably set by new collaborator Linda Perry - who, incidentally, had no part in the sublime No One, in spite of its Perry-esque instantaneous melody, 80s synth majesty and laid-bare sentiment. A track to rescue Alicia Keys from the doldrums of Magic 105.4 and shove her right back in the game.

Having already floored us with a bevy of killer singles this year, The Pigeon Detectives provide a crunching hollerfest of an anthem in the guise of I Found Out. At just over two minutes, it’s more of a shot than a song, but it certainly makes the most of its limited time - and FYI, we’ll allow the re-release aspect to scuttle on by unharmed, as it’s been given a decent enough makeover in its 2007 get-up.

A rotten dose of drippy, cliche-stuffed, snivelling R&B squelchiness comes courtesy of Rihanna & Ne-Yo, with the pathetically gooey Hate That I Love You. Unfortunately far closer to Sexy Love or So Sick than Umbrella or SOS, it’s the kind of thing you’d have expected to hear on the Peter Andre & Katie Price duets album. And if nothing else, Hate That I Love You confirms that Ne-Yo is a man best left behind the scenes… or a man best left behind, full stop.

And finally - it’s been seven years coming, and in all truth we didn’t think it would ever happen. The new Spice Girls single is here. And what a crushing disappointment it… isn’t. Yes, after the initial WTF-factor of Headlines (Friendship Never Ends), it truly redefines the term “grower”, proving itself to be an earnest, glossy, Spice-heavy ballad straight from their golden period. An easy Single of the Week, helped in part by the fact Radio 1 don’t like it - surely the mark of a great track?

Friday, November 09, 2007

Spice Girls - Greatest Hits (EMI)

For anyone who may have missed the latter half of the Nineties, this album may go some way to illustrating exactly what you failed to see. The unstoppable promotion machine and cultural behemoth that was the Spice Girls has returned, and not before time. A sell-out world tour, a brand new single, a Greatest Hits album and more coverage than even the tabloids themselves could have fathomed… it’s as though they never went away.

But how does the music itself fare a decade on? While some tracks (Wannabe, Who Do You Think You Are) can only realistically be consumed as a fun representation of their era, others have emerged far better on this side of the time capsule. Say You’ll Be There has barely aged, while Holler was clearly years ahead of its time, a track you could easily envision the Pussycat Dolls sweatily clamouring for.

And more than anything else, Greatest Hits underscores just how good the Spice Girls were at ballads. Viva Forever, Goodbye and Too Much are draped in a timeless pop gloss, with a refinement that was so easily forgotten in the overshadowing cries of Girl Power.

And yet, as an album - even as a compilation - it all feels somewhat uninspired. A largely chronological running order, a mere two new songs, and even the arguably insipid artwork make for more of a shoulder-shrug than a milestone in pop magnificence.

Of course, nothing could match the expectations created by near-psychotic Spice fans in the run-up to this album’s release, a million message boards buzzing with the horrible awareness of every rumoured recording and shelved single. The live favourite Woman, the fabled C U Next Tuesday, the original version of Blackstreet & Janet Jackson’s Girlfriend/Boyfriend, the Elton John-penned My Strongest Suit… not a trace of one of them.

Instead, we’re lumped with the cumbersome, juvenile Voodoo, which ironically sounds more dated than its 11-year-old companions. Therefore, it’s up to new single Headlines (Friendship Never Ends) to fortify the Spice brand, and it doesn’t have an easy job. It’s a slow burner, but once fully alight, it’s truly enchanting. Whether Joe Public will stick with the song long enough to find out remains to be seen.

On the whole, however, it’s a tremendous way to commemorate the Spice Girls as both pop icons and national treasures who have yet to be matched, let alone surpassed. We’re all aware of the immense record sales, the incomprehensible levels of merchandising, the neverending column inches and the impact on a cultural level. But it’s nice to be reminded of the music that begat the whole spectacle, and this collection justly draws attention to that.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Single Reviews 05/11/07

Prior to this week’s Single Reviews, an open letter to Amy Winehouse: Dear Amy, when MTV ask you to be the star attraction of their ropey little show, it’s not because they like you. It’s because they want headlines, viewers and revenue. That sniggering sound they’re making is not a good thing. If you insist on drinking yourself stupid, please endeavour to have a shot of integrity with it. Love from The Sloppy Dog. P.S. You’ve still got a bit of vom on your neck.

Cementing the fact that she really is little more than a US version of Kym Marsh, lead Pussycat scutter Nicole Scherzinger expunges a beige, mid-tempo non-entity of a track, supposedly to put her dancing hooker schtick behind her. Meanwhile, the ubiquitous and highly-questionable talents of Will.I.Am obviously add nothing to Baby Love’s pungency, suggesting the pair of them cordially bog off back to their respective groups.

Having already knocked the nation sideways with the mighty Civil Sin, Boy Kill Boy somehow manage to surpass it with the thundering No Conversation. Heavy on melody, big on clout, and constantly on repeat as far as the Sloppy Dog stereo is concerned, the only downside is that it raises questions as to why the hell we haven’t gotten more excited about Boy Kill Boy before now.

Kylie Minogue - who apparently has dropped the Minogue, but for the sake of showering abuse upon her, we’re keeping it - does nothing to build upon the braveness brand she’s inexplicably garnered, with the piss-weak non-music of 2 Hearts. Camp for camp’s sake, this squelchy McVaudeville tune-dodging wankage firmly puts Dannii back on top of the sibling league.

Finally, scooping our Single of the Week are the Kanye-jousting, Gallic house bastions Justice with the whimsical D.A.N.C.E., a sort of lunar playground chant meets dancefloor-beckoning anthem. Though it feels like it’s been out for the best part of a year, there’s no detracting from the effortless aceness contained within.
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