Saturday, May 31, 2008

Single Reviews 31/05/08

Following on from our unprecedented success in our support of David Cook in the recent American Idol finals, we’d like to draw your attention to the same backing of the unspeakably ace Jodie in the finale of I’d Do Anything. Fingers crossed we can make it two for two – God forbid the hateful, smug Jessie ever succeeds at anything. Go Jodie, woo, etc. Now, on the Weekly Soapbox, some Single Reviews

The vile Joe Lean & The Jing Jang Jong curse us with another hot air filled dollop of pretentiousness in the misshapen form of Where Do You Go. About as appealing as the musteline face of Joe ‘Lean’ himself, and carrying about as much relevance as the 1997 No Mercy song of the same name, we suggest you piss off back to polluting The Tudors (although the historical accuracy of the show is doing a fine job of that by itself).

Somewhere between Natasha Bedingfield and Vanessa Carlton – therefore unlikely to win many a fan round these parts – Sara Bareilles brings approximately diddly-squat to the proverbial table. Sure, she has pipes and can tickle a piano to decent effect, but Love Song is little more than an aural shoulder-shrug inducer, destined for a Track 21 placing on a 3CD All Woman compilation.

OneRepublic prove their multiplicity further with Say (All I Need), a soaring ballad that makes way for a smooth, placid chorus rather than the obvious choice of building up to a Celine-style sweeper. A worthy recipient of our Single of the Week. Mind you, it’s hard not to hear Only You by the Flying Pickets during the intro.

And rounding things off this week is another track boasting nods to the 80s, albeit far more transparent than OneRepublic’s allusion. Mystery Jets opt for plinky synth fun and a snifter of horns to encourage dad-dancing nationwide, in the insanely catchy Two Doors Down. That said, it’s hard to find the words to praise anyone who’s intentionally collaborated with Kate Nash. Bad, bad Three Doors Down.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Single Reviews 26/05/08

Well, no angry ‘Ump column this week – mahoosive Sloppy Dog congratulations to David Cook on being the first Cowellised talent show winner with the slightest hint of musicianship or integrity. Still, grrr to Raef being turfed off The Apprentice, and a half-arsed insignificant grumbling relating to Chelsea’s defeat. Oh, and just to pre-empt tonight’s Eurovision – that’s what you get for sending a Malteser-looking binman to represent you, you silly Brits. Right then, Single Reviews

Equal parts glitter-glue and cuntishness, Alphabeat are first on the agenda. Fascination proved to be fun for all of ten minutes, but the gimmick has well and truly died a death. 10,000 Nights is so chirpy and day-glo and brimming with Prozac, even Same Difference would have refused it. But it’s fine for Alphabeat, because they write their own stuff!!! And have INSTRUMENTS!!!! Oh, that’s alright, then! That makes them PROPER!!! Do fuck off, you insufferable Euro-sewage-peddling tosspots.

Taio Cruz follows up the ghastly Come On Girl with something significantly more pleasant, and not just as a result of the distinct lack of Luciana. The far superior I Can Be is a gentle electro-ballad with serious magnetism, although we personally find the Estelle remix an even greater delight. Still, the question remains, how much longer can he sustain a career off the back of the fact he heard Umbrella before the rest of us?

Inexplicably, the once-almighty Alanis Morissette has seemingly morphed into her wet, willowy countryman (or woman? What’s the correct term there?) Sarah McLachlan, with the uncharacteristically drippy Underneath. Love, the world prefers the angry tales of women scorned, Catholic guilt, and things that aren’t actually irony. Sure, you’re ace, but you’re far acer with a bee in your bonnet.

Finally, Single of the Week is given to The Zutons, whose return is marked by the superb Always Right Behind You. It’s not quite as rich in their patented brand of congenial Scousery as previous efforts, owing more to classic, straight-down-the-line rock ‘n’ roll, but the jangly fun is present in spades all the same. And why wouldn’t they be in a good mood after all those additional Valerie royalties?

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Honking Box Preview: American Idol

It feels like all of two minutes ago that we were tearing strips off the final twelve of American Idol, and yet, somehow, here we are at the finale. To be honest, we didn’t think we’d even stick with it (see also: Big Brother 8, Castaway, any news programme lasting more than one minute), but it’s actually thrown up a veritable mezze of entertainment gold.

We’ve seen Ryan Seacrest defending Paula’s garbled gin-psychosis; Danny Noriega pwning Cowell with the single snap of a neck; Ramiele Malubay’s snot-waterfall; Teri Hatcher singing country and western, and let’s not forget the classic torrent of atrocious over-patriotic group performances. And quite how we’ve made it this far without putting a fist through the TV at the Chicago Town sponsorship bumpers is a mystery.

Much as we’d have loved a Brooke/Carly final, we certainly can’t complain about the presence of the awesome David Cook, who could well be the most deserving winner since Carrie Underwood. Not that we have anything against Jordin Sparks, but at the end of the day, she’s effectively just Leona Lewis with a bit more meat and a LOT more personality.

Of course, this is assuming he can fight off the intense competition from tweenage robo-throb David Archuleta, who in spite of an impressive voice, looks like he should be gracing the front of a Play Doh Fun Factory box. Yes, we’ve got an All-David final, as was predicted by many early on in the contest (just to clarify, this does not include he-lap-dancer and severe victim of gayface, David Hernandez). So we’ve picked each finalist apart for you to make an informed decision. It’s completely impartial, as you’ll see…

Looking at each finalist’s credentials, it’s hard not to think of the first ever Pop Idol final, and the showdown between Will Young and Gareth Gates. Sure, David Cook isn’t a snotty, middle-class, fudge-packing, arrogant Marxist spunkbubble with a voice that could sink a cargo ship, but in terms of it being Musician vs Pop Puppet, there are certainly parallels.

So, in short, we’re Team Cook all the way. The results will be aired on ITV2 this Friday, but you’ll have to avoid the ENTIRE internet from Wednesday if you don’t want to find out before then. Ever the pessimists though, we’re sure Archuleta will walk it, so be sure to check back later this week for a bile-heavy ‘Ump column. Grrr, snarl, etc.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Single Reviews - 19/05/08

Yikes. Looks like the Single Reviews are late again. Now, we’ve already blamed the good weather recently, and given it’s turned to shit this week, we certainly can’t use that as a valid excuse again. Let’s see… does “the dog got it” still cut it these days?

Well, well, well. Look who’s had the cheek to show her pasty face once again. Clearly we didn’t damn Sandi Thom to the fiery bowels of Hell quite hard enough, so it’s poignant that her comeback single is entitled The Devil’s Beat. She’s dropped the wholefood café observational folk cuntery, and has replaced it with a sixth-form take on KT Tunstall. A vast improvement, though frankly she’d need to come up with a cure for cancer before we can excuse I Wish I Was A Punk Rocker.

Andy Abraham somehow returns from warranted obscurity with Even If, though if there were any justice we’d be reviewing Michelle Gayle’s far superior Woo (You Got Me) in its place. Gayest music rant EVER out of the way, Even If is a melange of anaemic disco twaddle and sticky soul endeavours, which is likely to go down like Fearne Cotton behind the John Peel Stage in next weekend’s Eurovision. Eastern Bloc, start your pwnage…

The highly-coveted (no, really, the industry loves our shit) Single of the Week title is awarded with little competition to Justice, for the second time. Their refrigerated neo-house quirkfest DVNO is a step-by-step guide as to why Justice are snapping at Daft Punk’s heels. Still, please tell us we’re only seeing the cream of French dance exported, and that there’s a pile of Ultrabeat-style twaddle clogging up their charts as well. God forbid they do something THIS MUCH better than the Brits…

And closing the reviews is the nightmarish pairing of Nelly & Fergie. Can we really handle so much class in just one record? Cluttered, bothersome and unoriginal, although special mention must go to Nelly’s mile-a-minute caffeine chatterings, specifically the fact they’re replacing the sloppy stoner drawl that made the bulk of his material so yawnworthy. But overall, Party People is the aural equivalent of a particularly stroppy gaggle of geese. With loudspeakers. And drum kits. And unsightly gold hoop earrings, just for good measure.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Honking Box Review: Gladiators

You know, this whole Nineties revival thing hasn’t turned out too bad. Sure, the Spice Girls reunion could have been managed by a basset hound and turned out better, yet the concerts themselves were impossible to fault. And while we’re not exactly Take That devotees, the squeeing housewives across Britain speak for themselves.

So imagine our disappointment to see that Gladiators – back on fucking Sky One for a 21st Century overhaul – hasn’t made the transition particularly well. Clearly, this is at the ropey end of the Nineties spectrum with the return of All Saints. The floor space has been quartered, making Powerball resemble a stroll around a vase stand at The Pier; sob stories of dead relatives (a la X Factor) have found themselves an awkward new home here; Hit & Run’s gigantic silver globes have been replaced by small, baggy sacks that you’d see in the doorway of a Sue Ryder Care shop after a Bank Holiday; and a swimming pool has been shoehorned in, with similar dimensions to the sort usually reserved for bodily fluids and shame during the more drunken nights of Big Brother.

Aside from the skimpy budgets and comparatively miniscule set, the main problem with all-new Gladiators appears to be that it takes itself far too seriously. Constantly in character without a hint of personality, the Gladiators are like jobbing actors given their break as pantomime baddies, reaching new levels of cringe-inducing overacting while remaining steadfastly dead-eyed throughout.

Oblivion’s desperation to cement himself as the villain character is utterly shameless, completely tenuous and impossible to buy into given that he looks like a bouncy castle with the head of an emu, and carries all the threat of a passive-aggressive remark about Lauren’s strappy sandals in an episode of The Hills.

Elsewhere, one would imagine a Gladiator given the name of Spartan (which, in the company of Battleaxe, is most certainly one of the long straws) would have no trouble miming his moniker. Drawing his mighty sword, perhaps? Charging headlong into battle? Or even just some gormless flexing? Oh no, not Spartan. Someone’s obviously told him ‘Spartan’ means ‘RADA reject’, hence the cringe-inducing ham party he unveils each time he’s introduced, resembling something like Quentin Crisp attempting tai-chi minutes after leaving a full-body cast. However, the most jaw-dropping aspect of this came courtesy of the end credits, which inexplicably listed a choreographer as part of the show. So Spartan was TOLD to do that shit? And AGREED?!

Having seen the revamped American Gladiators while on a Sloppy Dog recreational in Florida earlier this year, it was interesting that the new series paid more of a homage to the UK take on Gladiators rather than its original US incarnation – pyrotechnics, incidental music, and a sense of fun rather than fierce competition. However, the Sky One adaptation evidently takes its lead from Ice Warriors (for those of you not familiar, a toe-curlingly diabolical Gladiators-on-ice catastrophe which lasted one season, and will forever be imprinted in our minds thanks to the ill-chosen line supposedly extolling the might and mystique of ‘warrior’ Marax The Vixen - “raised by beasts of the snow”).

And yet, there wasn’t a total freeze-out on references harking back to the original series. Kirsty Gallacher, for example, who came in costume as the 1990s, complete with iffy waistcoat and a poofy Silvikrin-sponsored bob, supposedly as some sort of tribute to original host Ulrika Jonsson. Wisely, Kirsty opted not to go the whole hog and act as in-house cum-receptacle for every male Gladiator. And contender. And crew member. And audience member.

Elsewhere, 90s Glad veteran Panther found her name recycled and bestowed upon what appears to be Dame Kelly Holmes (complete with charisma deficiency), while Hunter was seemingly cryogenically frozen, thawed out and renamed Atlas. Once again, with a grave absence of personality. We’re noticing a pattern here.

We won’t give up on it just yet (although its presence on the inaccessible Sky One might be the deciding factor) – one episode is just one episode, after all. And hey – if Inferno can manage to walk upright whilst carrying those ridiculously huge baps, then she deserves our respect if nothing else.

And yet, in spite of all the above, which cements the new series of Gladiators thus far as a putrid pile of horse-shit, we’re fully aware that the Gladiators themselves could beat the bejesus out of us without breaking the slightest hint of a sweat. So we’ll sign off here, call Oblivion a nobber while his back is turned, and quite frankly, leggit.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Single Reviews 12/05/08

So, yet another week passes without us writing a single thing. Let’s see what the excuse can be this time… London mayoral elections… Bank Holiday bandwidth sluggishness… bloody Thatcher, maybe? Oh, bollocks to it. It’s nice outside, is that not reason enough!? Either way, we’re very sorry, and have made this week’s Single Reviews extra wonderful by way of apology.

Ashlee Simpson heads up the offerings this week, with the Stars In Their Eyes take on Gwen Stefani’s entire solo catalogue, Outta My Head (Ay Ya Ya). Although it’s positive to see some form of envelope-pushing (within her own sphere at least), it sounds like Timbaland threw this together on the tour bus using his Blackberry. A step in an interesting direction, if not necessarily the right direction.

Single of the Week is awarded to the magnificent Ladytron, who continue their quiet supremacy with Ghosts, a space-age, vodka-drenched nursery rhyme with riffs and squelches in all the right places. Managing a peculiar yet admirable balance of prominent humanness and detached sci-fi psychosis, it’s the perfect advertisement for a band worthy of the kind of hard sell reserved for the Ting Tings. Oh, look who’s next…

Having been gushed over by eternal bandwagon shareholders Radio 1 and the NME for what feels like a decade, it’d be fair to have developed a loathing for the Ting Tings already. However, they’re not as dire as the hype they may have been contaminated by would suggest. Sounding like a cross between Shampoo and M.I.A. (roughly as transitory as the former, and significantly less cunty than the latter), That’s Not My Name is fresh, fun and fucking annoying.

Finally – and this isn’t an aspect of popular culture that we ever thought we’d be addressing in a musical context – comes Chanelle Hayes with a paradigm of sweaty desperation in the form of a recording career. While she provided one of the lone high(er) points in a catastrophic series of Big Brother, and while she may miraculously possess a semi-decent voice, I Want It is cordially invited to rot alongside Sandi Thom in the bowels of Hell. Speaking of, guess who’s back in next week’s Single Reviews… *evil grin*

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Honking Box Review: The Apprentice

When we covered the first episode of this series of The Apprentice back in March, we had yet to determine which candidates would fulfil which roles. And we were disappointed at an apparent lack of disapproving looks from Margaret Mountford and Nick Hewer (undoubtedly the key pleasures of the show). However, last night’s show provided enough Mountford/Hewer Specials to last the entire season, and firmly cemented that no other series of The Apprentice has ever presented the viewers of Britain with such a vicious, dislikeable array of utter, utter cunts.

Given the task of designing a new range of greetings cards, not only did the contestants demonstrate their ample nasty streaks, but also their unfathomable stupidity. As if having climate change rammed down our throats by every retailer, media outlet and precocious schoolkid wasn’t enough, Jenny Celerier – the only woman on Earth capable of pleasuring herself with her own chin – somehow thought the public would buy into the concept of preaching the message via a greetings card. Who did she think would actually part with money for such vacuous crap? Hell, why not just send a turd in the post? It’d get the “I fucking detest you” message across far clearer (plus you’d be saving the paper that the card would’ve been printed on, never mind that you’re also recycling your waste).

While it would have been hugely satisfying to see Jenny crash and burn last night, it was rightly the weak, naïve Kevin who got the boot after his catastrophic failure as team leader. And although you’d imagine feeling a degree of guilt at seeing the Pillsbury Dough Boy get the pwning of his life, Kevin proved himself a big enough tosspot to justify every last hyperbole flung at him by Yesralan. Nevertheless, the episode still served to highlight exactly what a putrid bitch Jenny is. I think it’s safe to say we’ve determined this year’s Katie Hopkins.

Even early favourite Lee McQueen, who stood out as one of the few good guys, proved himself – in the space of a 30-second period at the end of last night’s show – to be a vile, bullying scumlord. His tag-team assault on Sara along with nasal, hateful pussy-boy Alex Wotherspoon made for seriously uncomfortable viewing, and proved that his approach as salt-of-the-earth barrah-boy is merely a mask for his true self as an evil, revenue-hungry business demon. If only he could mask his inch-deep pockmarks as easily.

But it’s Alex himself who takes the title of Candidate Most Deserving of a Multitude of Uppercuts. You can’t help but wonder what he’s plotting when he’s silently chewing the inside of his cheek as pandemonium unfolds all around him. Still, maybe it’s not as sinister as all that – he may just need something to do to keep his forked tongue occupied when it’s not firing poison at the weaker contestants.

Strangely, early nobber Raef has proved himself to be quite the contender. In spite of the Etonian fop-nob exterior, Raef seemingly has a fairly level head on his shoulders, and more importantly, plays fair – an even more admirable quality amidst such a hideous gaggle of villains. But of course, special mention must go to the endearingly soft Lucinda, whose steadfast refusal to stray from her cushion-collecting, cat-owning flower fairy manner has to be seen to be believed (never mind the fact that she turns up for tasks dressed as Penny Crayon).

So we’re officially throwing our weight behind Lucinda “The Legend” Ledgerwood as she strenuously and unfalteringly flies the crocheted flag for that ever-shrinking minority, nice people. A minority which, after that rant, we’re probably no longer part of…
Creative Commons Licence
The Sloppy Dog by is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.