Sunday, December 30, 2007

The Sloppy Dog 2007 Honours List

And so we reach the end of 2007, a year in which our hit counter almost went into orbit off the back of a single post about Jodie Marsh; a year in which we found ourselves practically boycotting Big Brother out of sheer tedium; and a year in which our posts have been slightly scarce (mainly due to the fact we’ve been writing for other websites which pay us).

But of course, we couldn’t see in the New Year without paying tribute to some of our favourite pop culture icons of the past 12 months. We’ll be back in mid-January, post winter sun holiday - until then, enjoy (in no particular order) our Sloppy Dog Heroes of 2007...

Matt Groening
The man was responsible (however indirectly) for Spiderpig. Do you really need any further reason? That said, few people managed to see beyond the key joke used to push the Simpsons Movie worldwide, and while it was admittedly hysterical, the film overall was a complete triumph. And while other shows of the ilk can only wish for such consistency (we can barely watch Family Guy after South Park’s fitting manatee ‘revelation’), The Simpsons continues to go from strength to strength with Matt Groening at the helm.

The Spice Girls
Where to begin? The mere fact that the Spice Girls decided to reunite is reason enough for them to be exalted in our 2007 honours list. Add to that a criminally underrated single (which gains them pity points), a frank documentary, an unequivocal apology from the Ginger Deserter, and undeniably the best tour they’ve ever put on, it’s like the best bits of 1997 all over again, only with great big bells on and slightly better outfits. Whether they’re just back for a brief visit or are here to stay, we’re entirely ecstatic it even happened at all.

Charlie Brooker
Effectively, for saying what we wish we had the panache, originality, vocabulary, and frankly, the balls to say. Screen Wipe (which we’ve now decided is two words) continues to provide a hysterical - if somewhat bleak - look into the grim world of television, while his Guardian musings guarantee a week-on-week display of utter genius. The most caustic and hilarious critic in Britain today, we officially want to be Charlie Brooker if and when we grow up.

LOLcats
…or whoever was initially responsible for this barmy yet addictive - and lest we omit, entirely necessary - web marvel. It’s hard to pin down personal favourites, although the classic “I Can Has Cheezburger?” will take some beating. And while it’s most likely little more than this year’s Hamster Dance, it’s induced doubled-over laugher at Sloppy Dog Towers on multiple occasions. This is exactly what the internet was invented for. Ya, rly.

Kevin Smith
A second year running on our list for modern cinema’s greatest mind (no sniggering at the back, PT Anderson fans). Again, we’ve had little exposure to the fruits of said mind in any kind of screen format this year, but in the meantime, his blogs continue to entertain, enthral, and drum up all kind of excitement for Zack & Miri Make A Porno. And hey, we’re happy to watch Clerks on a continous loop in the meantime.

Grace Dent
Principally, TV scrutiniser extraordinaire Grace Dent makes an appearance for all the same reasons as Charlie Brooker, albeit with a tad less poison. But supplementary props must be awarded for her superb Diary Of A Chav books, the third instalment of which we await with potentially pant-wetting anticipation. And of course, managing to provide a witty, on-the-ball commentary of what was a genuinely excruciating series of Big Brother - surely the stuff of an OBE?

Will Smith
A late entrant into our Hall of Disrepute, mainly off the back of the breathtaking I Am Legend. Special mention must go to Vue Plymouth for bollocksing up the reel at a vital point, yet even this couldn’t detract from a tremendous performance from the man himself. And much like Richard Hammond in last year’s list, Will Smith also appears as a result of being, quite simply, a jolly nice chap. Sir, we cordially add you to our line-up of celebs we’d like to go for a pint with.

The Boy Least Likely To
Not content with creating the superlative single of 2006, The Boy Least Likely To continue to give us reason to heart them completely. We’ve forgiven them the DFS fiasco entirely, as their January stop at Komedia in Brighton provided the gig of 2007. And Kevin Smith’s MySpace posts aren’t the only welcome stop-gap blogs between projects - each of Jof’s pleasant ramblings reads like an Enid Blyton book for the digital age. At this rate, the new album looks set to be one of the greatest of 2008.

Sarah Silverman
Sarah Silverman’s annihilation of Britney Spears and Paris Hilton this year was the stuff of legend (BTW, let the record show we have nothing against Britney - but it was hard not to both laugh and find some accuracy in what was actually a much-deserved dose of The Slaegin). Furthermore, her TV show highlights her unmatchable comedy brilliance, yet falls foul of lazy scheduling. Sort your shit out, Paramount, we’d hate to see Sarah pwn you to Kingdom Come. Actually, who are we kidding? We’d love to see that…

Shilpa Shetty
It’s hard to believe it was less than a year ago that saw Shilpagate - an incident which already feels like a historical event - send the blogs, the gutter press, the broadsheets, the House of Commons and effectively Planet Earth into an enraged meltdown. But coming out the other side of the bedlam was a woman that handled gross maltreatment with immense new levels of dignity, indirectly ended the career of insufferable scum-pig Jade Goody, and generated perpetual legendary quotes (“your claim to fame is this” and “Duck Benedict sounds like a dish” to name a couple). Dame Shilpa, we salute you.

Happy New Year, everyone! See you in 2008. xx

Sunday, December 23, 2007

The Sloppy Dog's Best of 2007: Singles


10. Chemical Brothers - The Salmon Dance
We’ll choose to ignore the fact that one half of the Chemical Brothers is voluntarily aiding the spread of the Allen tribe, given the sheer genius of their September single The Salmon Dance. Fresh, audacious and frankly, madder than a weasel in a crate of Koosh balls, it proved to be one of the definitive love-or-hate tracks of the year. No prizes for guessing which camp we fall into…

9. Klaxons - It’s Not Over Yet
On paper, you’d be forgiven for thinking that a nu-rave cover of a faceless 90’s dance choon was the worst idea ever conceived. Fair play then to the Klaxons, who managed to turn a bubbling cauldron of decaying cheese into a shadowy, thumping anthem of solitude. Quite an impressive feat, even if their day-glo hoodies and hideous religion-indicating skinny jeans detract heavily from any visual demonstration. Bleurgh, etc.

8. Spice Girls - Headlines (Friendship Never Ends)
We love an underdog here at The Sloppy Dog, yet we never expected that’s a term we could apply to the Spice Girls. In fairness, we can appreciate the lack of interest in Headlines, but given a chance, it’s proved itself to be an uplifting, sweeping ballad swathed in exemplary Spice loveliness (special props to Melanie C, whose verse completely owns the rest of the song,). As for its lacklustre performance? That only makes us love it more, rather like a three-legged puppy.

7. Mr Hudson & The Library - Ask The DJ
A high entrant in our Albums of 2007 list, Mr Hudson & The Library make another appearance in our End of Year flatter-fest, this time on the back of their ridiculously impressive Ask The DJ. Unfathomably, it didn’t come close to bothering the Top 40, but much like Headlines, that only serves to make it all the more appealing - perhaps the only time you’ll ever hear Mr Hudson & The Library likened to the Spice Girls…

6. Paolo Nutini - New Shoes
A feel-good grin-a-long that’s near impossible to find any kind of aversion to, New Shoes ceremoniously plucks Paolo Nutini from the tiring list of wistful singer-songwriters and shoves him into his own worthwhile, distinctive spotlight. A charming, tomorrow-can-wait idyll with an endearing simplicity, it’s testimony to a star far better of demonstrating Scotland’s talent than a certain talent show ‘winner’ is.

5. Kelis & Cee-Lo - Lil Star
Given that this track played a significant part in helping what was, in hindsight, a decidedly average album get named our fourth greatest album of 2006, you’d think we might hold a bit of resentment towards it. But it’s hard to feel anything negative when such a stirring sentiment, gorgeous vocals and adorable melody are concerned. Let’s hope Lil Star’s success has given the laziest woman in music something resembling a wake-up call…

4. Sugababes - About You Now
Surpassing All Saints, Girls Aloud and even the Spice Girls with the girl group gem of the year, the Sugababes’ return was triumphant, untouchable and completely filled any patchy Mutya-shaped holes with a fresh injection of Amelle exquisiteness. And although the album may have failed to live up to its predecessors, it could well be blamed on the gutsy, harmonious finery of About You Now setting the bar so sky-scrapingly high.

3. Ghosts - Stay The Night
Claiming the bronze medal are the Ghosts, with their exceptional debut single Stay The Night. Evoking the greatest moments of mid 90’s Britpop, it’s like a compound of Shed Seven, the Bluetones and Ocean Colour Scene each at their respective finest, and yet simultaneously is undisputable Ghosts. A captivating vocal performance complemented by acute blasts of animated brassy goodness, it’s further verification of just why the Ghosts are 2007’s greatest breakthrough.

2. Rooney - When Did Your Heart Go Missing?
Claiming a highly respectable second place are Rooney, whose initial sound of OC-friendly college rawk has evidently been treated to some vigorous polishing since 2003. At the core, When Did Your Heart Go Missing is an anthem of inconsolable desertion, yet it’s all wrapped up satisfactorily in a sea of strapping melodies, vivacious riffs, and a disarming dose of lovable, sun-bleached character. And had it been released in time, we’d have been looking at the unquestionable anthem of the summer.

1. Alterkicks - Good Luck
And so we reach our top song of 2007, an honour which is awarded to Alterkicks and their outstanding, transcendent, and frankly magnificent single Good Luck. A track which, when we first reviewed, lost out on receiving Single of the Week in favour of a half-arsed cover with questionable lesbian overtones taken from a severely underachieving Britflick about home-made porn. But it was by a Spice Girl, which sort of goes some way to explaining our choice. Back to the song at hand, Good Luck floored us with its instantaneous melody, touching lyrics and towering chorus. All in all, sonic Viagra for the hairs on the back of your neck.

Friday, December 21, 2007

The Sloppy Dog's Worst of 2007: Singles


10. Reverend & The Makers - Heavyweight Champion of the World
After happily gushing about our favourite TV shows, it’s time to expel some pent-up venom. And where better to start than with Reverend & The Makers? The ultimate in Stella-induced Yates karaoke, this lumbering mess of a song somehow stumbled into the Top Ten back in June. And having heard the grotesque album, we can confirm that Heavyweight Champion of the World was just the tip of a particularly forbidding iceberg, inhabited by vicious walruses.

9. Natasha Bedingfield - I Wanna Have Your Babies
We’ve always held an indifferent take-her-or-leave-her approach to Natasha Bedingfield, but there was absolutely no pardoning this horrific piece of work. It’s one thing being frank; it’s another thing altogether spilling your forlorn fem-spiel in its entirety, quickly dissolving any chance of male interest for the next five years. Such disgorged, desperate sentiment invoked a somewhat heady career dive, and rightly so.

8. Arctic Monkeys - Brianstorm
We’ve made every effort not to even acknowledge the existence of the Overrated Apes here on the Sloppy Dog. While it’s possible that our lack of coverage might not damage their career too heavily, it’s more in the hope that if we believe hard enough that they don’t actually exist, then it might come true. Well, they are fairies aren’t they? Moving swiftly on, Brianstorm was a gawkily literal brouhaha of bollocks and overall highly unpleasant on the ear - in short, classic Arctic Monkeys.

7. Mika - Big Girl (You Are Beautiful)
The first of several appearances from the grating, bemopped cuntrag in our list, and not without reason. While Mika himself is obviously an insufferable creature, let’s take a moment to focus specifically on the song - a demonic anthem of obesity, targeted at the most despondent fag-hags, who, if the video is any indication, lapped it up in spades. A hundred fat birds jiggling down Surrey Street Market behind a wiry gay scarecrow? It’s like the Pied Piper as interpreted by Hell’s least exclusive stage school.

6. M.I.A. - Jimmy
Strange how such a contrived, cod-political, soapbox-dwelling “serious” artist can ditch her neverending messages of opinionated codswallop in a gnat’s cock, presumably in the hope of shifting a few more units. On the basis of Jimmy at least, that’s what M.I.A. has attempted to do, and not with much panache. A squelchy disco catastrophe with the soul sucked firmly out of it, we almost preferred her falsetto fuckwittery splashing around in the Ganges, or her foghorn hollering from ‘da streetz’.

5. Christina Aguilera - Candyman
Two years in a row now, Aggie’s made an apperance in our countdown of cack. However, last year’s offender, Ain’t No Other Man, virtually sounds like Bohemian Rhapsody in comparison to this cataclysmic wartime wankfest. Whoever talked Christina - who, let’s not forget, was once a relevant and respected pop artist - into creating a soundtrack to rationing vouchers should be shot. Although ironically, an air-raid siren would have provided more favourable listening.

4. Kate Nash - Mouthwash
Ah, just what we needed this year. A gobby, sanctimonious scutter with an opinion on everything, who’s come to pollute the charts with her charmless Mockney sewage. Jeez, at least we can muster a tolerance for Lily Allen’s sound-offs, given that she’s got a bit of talent to back it up. Mouthwash, however, is the mark of a discordant tramp intent on raping the English language with her disastrous lyrics. An utter cunt, and no mistaking.

3. Kaiser Chiefs - Ruby
To think that this was the same band that brought us the majestic Employment. The most overrated song of the year, it almost physically hurt to see such utter unpleasant tripe receiving acclaim from every single media outlet, and subsequently stampeding its way to Number One. Aside from bearing one of the worst choruses committed to record, it also brought to light an exasperating smugness from Ricky Wilson, which we’d happily see slapped off his face in the hope it returned them to former glories. Until then, Kaiser Chiefs, fuck right off. Please.

2. Mika - Love Today
Oh, look who’s back for another appearance in our list! A certain slime-secreting troll who foolishly believes he carries some form of sexual ambiguity despite being camper than a collision of Kenneth Williams and Liberace while eating pink iced buns at a Kylie Minogue concert. From the shrill chants that open proceedings, through each Happy-Meal-optimistic line of the verses, to the frankly distressing chorus, Love Today is four minutes of malicious, ear-terrorising anguish.

1. Mika - Grace Kelly
And of course, the top spot couldn’t have gone to any other artist. Although Mika’s not so much an artist as the Devil’s representative here on Earth, spreading his own brand of helium-induced malevolence. Well, the forces of good clearly stopped Sandi Thom in her tracks, so someone had to do it. Had the obnoxious Lollipop been released yet, it would’ve been a strong contender for Grace Kelly’s spot, but for now we’ll bathe in the unlawful high notes, ham-fisted lyrics, an overall sentiment to make your skin crawl, and of course, the “ker-ching!” which is the shit-caked cherry atop the infinite layers of odious musical manure. “Hate” is not strong enough. Merry Christmas, Mika!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

The Sloppy Dog's Best of 2007: TV


10. Top Gear
For a second, let’s put Richard Hammond’s unfathomable feather-cut to one side, and focus on one of the most consistently entertaining television shows of recent years. Top Gear is informative without being stuffy, naturally witty, and boasts some beautifully-shot VTs - plus it’s commendable how Jeremy Clarkson has fashioned his bigoted pig-headedness into an almost endearing Oscar-The-Grouch-style character. All in all, jolly good fun.

9. Victoria Beckham: Coming To America
First and foremost a lesson in how to pull off irony, this was never going to sell too well across the waters. Sadly, it didn’t fare too favourably here in Britain either (as the needless fucking disclaimer at the top of the show indicated), but thankfully the acerbic lunacy wasn’t lost on us. From her encounter with the dolphin lady to her ultimate girl-throw at the baseball game, this was pure, shameless entertainment. Major.

8. The Restaurant
Proving that elimination shows don’t need a wall-to-wall line-up of cutthroat villains just to operate, The Restaurant was an addictive, riveting - yet remarkably stress-free - fly-on-the-wall nugget. While we felt that the twins or Lloyd & Adwoa were far more deserving winners, The Restaurant nonetheless proved necessary viewing, and as a bonus, put us off ever wanting to open a Sloppy Dog-branded eatery of our own.

7. Lost
By far and away the most infuriating show on television, yet it’s become a compulsion that we just can’t shake off. Not even Channel 4’s stupidity in letting Sky One swipe it from under their schnozzes couldn’t keep us away (*cough* thank you, Bit Torrent *cough*). Admittedly patchy at times, while completely deplorable at others (they killed Charlie. Charlie!), but after the benchmark in unpredictable series cliffhangers, it’s safe to say we’ll be hooked for another season at least.

6. The Apprentice
Where The Restaurant illustrated that hard work and determination can be matched with goodwill, team spirit and sportsmanship, The Apprentice took a more “steamroller every motherfucker that gets in your path” approach - and it made for some fantastic viewing. From the hilarious (Tre’s take on the ocean-based artwork) to the embarrassing (the shopping channel fiasco) to the ludicrous (Paul’s sausage-cooking techniques) to the downright evil (Katie Hopkins), we await series four with a wound-up restlessness.

5. Ugly Betty
It’s hard to believe that this time last year, we hadn’t even heard of Betty - we were merely in the early stages of having our attention grabbed by the fashion parody teaser ads. Twelve months on, and it’s a Sloppy Dog staple with a mounting list of classic moments. Amanda’s rendition of Milkshake, Wilhelmina’s graveyard comeuppance, Alexis’ big reveal, and a whole host of unashamed Britishness from Christina, Ugly Betty has left a great big non-ugly stamp on 2007.

4. My Name Is Earl
Simultaneously managing to be both endearing and refreshingly un-PC, My Name Is Earl makes an appearance in our list for two years running. In Earl and Randy, you’ve got two of the most likeable characters on television; while, by contrast, Joy’s initial meeting with her deaf lawyer provided the defining comedy moment of the year, underlining that Jaime Pressly is snapping at Jane Kaczmarek’s heels as America’s greatest comic actress.

3. Doctor Who
How we omitted this in favour of Torchwood last year is inexplicable, especially after the ludicrous CGI bull non-finale. Arguably the most consistent series yet, with standout gems including Smith & Jones, Blink and 42, it also saw the outstanding Freema Agyeman strictly pwn-ing the hangover prodigy of Rose, and further cemented the captivating magic of David Tennant as the Doctor. We may have to invest in plastic sheets if the Christmas Special lives up to the promise of its adverts…

2. Kath & Kim
While Kath & Kim may have slipped a place from last year’s Number One slot, the quality certainly hasn’t gone downhill. The outstanding cameos from Eric Bana, Matt Lucas and Kylie Minogue (which admirably didn’t detract from the show’s simplicity) plus an increase in appearances from the celestial Trude & Prue made this year’s offering of Kath & Kim an absolute pleasure. Or, if you will, noiyce, different, and un-ewes-ual.

1. Heroes
And so we reach the Number One spot, a place rightfully occupied by the pioneering, entertaining, enthralling and downright tremendous Heroes. To be honest, we were already sold on the initial premise of pretty people with extraordinary powers, but Heroes proved to be far more than just televised comic book lite. Intense drama, breathtaking action scenes and effects, a mesmerizing plot, all peppered with light relief courtesy of Hiro, not even the negative reviews of Chapter Two can put us off. Coming next in our 2007 countdown is the year’s worst singles - coincidentally, where we’ll be unveiling our own superpower of unfaltering bitchery…

Monday, December 17, 2007

The Sloppy Dog's Worst of 2007: TV


10. BBC News at 8
We’re not too big on news here at The Sloppy Dog - we proudly revel in all things at the lower end of the culture scale. But this recent addition to BBC One’s schedule is truly shambolic. The clumsily hasty tone… the 45 degree angle that Kate Silverton is made to stand at (so clearly uncomfortably)… the funereal black background… all very ropey. And it’s safe to say such cheap, ineffective blue screen technology hasn’t been used since they nearly shorted Television Centre to make Wordy appear all floaty and torso-less.

9. Robin Hood
While nowhere near as bad as the criminally awful first series (which somehow evaded last year’s list), Robin Hood still merits an appearance in our countdown of televisual tripe. Horrific dialogue, laughable action scenes, entirely sexless lead characters, and of course, the tenuous efforts at wedging contemporary social issues into a medieval setting. Legend-diluting nonsense, we salute thee with Ye Olde Middle Finger.

8. Location Location Location Live
Don’t get us wrong, we love a bit of Phil ‘n’ Kirstie action. One of their strongest points is that they’re not presenters, they’re property experts. And while that means they’re fully clued-up in the relevant area, it sadly means live TV isn’t exactly their comfort zone. In fact, Location Location Location Live was on a par with the 1989 Brit Awards for sheer awkwardness. Keep shuffling those cue cards, Kirstie, that’ll fill the dead air.

7. DanceX
Seriously, did they make up the rules to this show as they went along? Hey, let’s put together a dance troupe! No, let’s make it two, actually. And let’s have them sing! Now, should we have them perform individually? And how will we vote them off? Oh, look, we conveniently have two bands of five, each with four ropey dancers and a shouty singer. The outcome? ITV1 wiping the floor with the Beeb ratings-wise, and a No. 91 single. Result.

6. Katy Brand’s Big Ass Show
While, in principle, we strongly support up-and-coming comedy talent (as Lord knows we’re well in need of some more in the UK), mention must be made of the monumentally unfunny Katy Brand, or more accurately, her Big Ass Show on ITV2. Granted, we could only stomach one episode, so there’s a strong chance the remainder of the series was an uproarious triumph, but the very idea of enduring another ghastly Amy Winehouse parody is too frightening to consider.

5. The Jeremy Kyle Show
A perennial non-favourite, The Jeremy Kyle Show continues to be the modern day equivalent of unwashed crowds gathering to gleefully witness a public hanging. Thankfully, its daytime slot means it tends to evade us nicely, although its presence is nonetheless felt through its existence alone. And ironically, Jeremy Kyle himself - equal parts twisted sadist and condescending prick - is the person who really needs putting in the stocks. Now that we’d watch…

4. Big Brother 8
Up there with the cataclysmic Series 4 as the joint worst season of Big Brother since the show’s birth, this summer’s snorefest really hit home how truly bereft of ideas Endemol actually are. Aside from the fact that the housemates were principally post-adolescent, clueless, fame-hungry imbeciles, the overall production had a complete lack of substance and was dragged on for approximately six weeks too many. A rigorous overhaul or a remorseless axe are the only two options.

3. This Life +10
Only just making the cut, having been screened on 2nd January, but what a worthy entrant into our list of unforgivable screen shite. Completely diluting the clout and the quality of the original series, This Life +10 was akin to taking a 1969 Jaguar E-type and sticking fluorescent tube lights underneath it, finished off with a pair of furry dice on the rear view mirror and an acid smiley on the bonnet. An unwarrantable insult to one of the most iconic shows of the 1990’s, this proved to be the worst idea in drama in 2007.

2. Living On The Edge
Cementing the death of MTV UK without sparing the gore, Living On The Edge was touted as the British answer to Laguna Beach. Now, we know Laguna Beach in itself is a steaming pile of horsecrap, but at least they’re halfway to casting attractive people who can string a sentence together. Living On The Edge, however, gives us Tom, the questionably-assigned hunk of the show, who resembles the Pillsbury Dough Man, and a vast array of repugnant, orange-skinned harpies providing the babe element. And were we able to catch a single word the mumbling morons utter, we’d be able to confirm whether the dialogue is as repugnant as the rest of the production.

1. Skins
Let’s face it, no show could have ever lived up to the kind of astronomical hype rolled out by E4 for this series. So it didn’t help that the show itself turned out to be the most smug, hateful, contrived, stage school diarrhoea splattered onto UK screens in aeons. Painted as a picture of valid adolescent craziness, yet you’d find more realism in an episode of In The Night Garden; truly punchable characters; a neverending torrent of graceless, smarmy dialogue; a banal, clich├ęd “trendy” soundtrack. All in all, teeth-grindingly awful and an utter embarrassment to British TV.
 
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