Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Sloppy Dog 2008 Honours List

Finally, we close The Sloppy Dog's End Of Year round-up with our annual honours list, where we celebrate the pop culture heroes of 2008. Truth be told, it’s hard to avoid overlap from previous years’ lists (as a couple of entrants will illustrate), but we haven't had too much overall difficulty finding ten deserving recipients. Ladies and gentlemen, in no particular order, the pwners of 2008...

Chris Lilley
A man whose talents as a comedy actor reach frighteningly realistic proportions; a man whose writing skills are matched only by his microscopically astute observational skills; a man who has made us laugh more than anyone else in 2008. Summer Heights High and We Can Be Heroes are genuine masterpieces – we’ve already got the plastic sheet down for the next project...

Alesha Dixon
Redefining the term ‘underdog’ upon entering Strictly last year, it’s been a pleasure to see Alesha Dixon go from strength to strength since her victory. We’d have never bothered with the show had she not been part of it, which is testament to her hugely lovable nature. Much like Richard Hammond and Will Smith in previous years’ lists, Alesha is, even before you consider any of her other plentiful good points, a jolly nice person.

David Cook
We’ve had the occasional favourite over the many series of American Idol, but never before has such a sizeable talent participated, let alone won. Proving that musicianship, integrity, creativity and personality have a place in the likes of Idol (Leona, take note), David Cook is by far the most deserving and exciting talent show triumph in the history of the genre.

Ben & Jerry
Of course, their presence here owes at least some thanks to the fact Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield produce the greatest ice cream on Earth, but the main reason comes as a result of Sundae On The Common, by far the summer’s best festival. Well, one-day jobby as opposed to out-and-out festival, but with Ash, Get Cape Wear Cape Fly, and all the ice cream you can eat, who’s complaining?

Sarah Silverman
Having made this very same list a year ago, Sarah Silverman does the double off the back of her riotously entertaining Hammersmith Apollo show. Although slapdash reviews recounted all manner of boos and heckles WHICH DIDN’T ACTUALLY HAPPEN, Silverman’s delightfully un-PC material and uniquely wry approach cement her as one of America’s greatest comic talents of today.

Russell T. Davies
RTD’s work in bringing Doctor Who back to our screens is impressive enough, and that’s even before you take into account the untouchable level of quality applied to it. This year’s outstanding series paid testament to his near-paranormal writing flair - as did both Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures - while his book The Writer’s Tale provided a rare and exceptional window into what’s evidently a spectacular mind.

Danny Wallace
Anyone who can think of a concept as simultaneously simple and bizarre as Yes Man is clearly unique. But to make it work to the extent that it gets its own silver screen interpretation must be the mark of a genius. Meanwhile, back in Blighty, by far and away the highlight of the hugely-impressive Shortlist remains Danny’s regular column, further underlining his inimitable wit and proving that he’s still one of us.

Ruth Lorenzo
It’ll come as no surprise to see the breathtakingly fantastic Ruth Lorenzo in our list. Although Alexandra was a more than worthy winner, we maintain Ruth is the greatest contestant in talent show history – a sort of female David Cook, if you will. Boasting originality, vision, warmth, and a killer voice, plus incredibly gracious in her unjust elimination unlike many of her X Factor contemporaries, if Ruth isn’t signed in the next few months we may have to cut a bitch.

Sure, things have been somewhat hushed on the Ash front over the past 12 months. Ok, so things have been practically mute. But our lone experience of one of our favourite bands throughout 2008 was certainly an impressive one, providing us with the live performance of the year at the aforementioned Sundae On The Common. Now let’s get thee to a studio and get some new material a-cooking...

Charlie Brooker
And finally, another entrant in our list for the second year running. While King Charlie’s hysterical rants about the state of telly remain (a) something we aspire to pull off with such articulacy, and (b) something that has us in regular fits, his work on the truly remarkable Dead Set further validates his placing – such an uncanny juxtaposition of macabre and hilarious could only ever come from one man.

Monday, December 29, 2008

The Sloppy Dog's Worst of 2008: Singles

We thought we had a hard time narrowing down the year’s greatest singles to just ten selections, but trying to whittle down the gargantuan quantities of shit music for our Worst Singles list was even more difficult.
That means a reprieve for The Verve and Sugababes, both of whom should be utterly ashamed of themselves for their respective Pingu and Boots cackfests. It also means a lucky escape for Nickelback, H Two O, Leon Jackson and multiple entries from Alphabeat, plus Christina Aguilera who narrowly avoids making the list three times in a row. But for now, let’s don our gas masks and root through the sewage bad enough to warrant a festive dose of The Slaegin™...

10. Basshunter - Now You're Gone
We left the country for a brief holiday back in January, and returned to find this abomination sat smugly at Number One. Seriously, can we not turn our backs for five minutes without the music scene going into Euro-manure meltdown? Is there no chance that the soundtrack to a million regurgitated Reefs on the pavements outside a contemptible out-of-town nightclub could actually stay there?

9. Pussycat Dolls - When I Grow Up
We’ve always held a substantial amount of contempt for the dancing courtesan collective, but never before has one of their songs been so completely vexing. Ham-fisted, tacky, self-indulgent lyrics which denote precisely nothing – so, you ladies wanna have cars, groupies and/or boobies? Well, we want you to have low sales, typhoid and/or multiple accidents. Starting with Nicole.

8. Dizzee Rascal & Calvin Harris - Dance Wiv Me
It was a shame to see the gifted, inventive Dizzee Rascal hooking up with bandwagon-on-legs Calvin Harris, but an even bigger shame to hear the extent to which Harris decimated the track. It’s not just his hackneyed beats that make Dance Wiv Me so unbearable, it’s the pitiful attempts at singing, sounding more like Father Paul Stone reading out the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy league scores.

7. Kylie Minogue – Wow
Dear ol’ Kyles has peddled some shit throughout her career, but nothing comes close to the lifeless, uninspired waste of oxygen that is Wow. Seriously, not even Chocolate or that one with that Keith bloke come close to the musical dishonour on display here. Kylie, love, when Dannii is effortlessly outshining you without even realising a single thing, you know the drawing board’s a-calling.

6. David Jordan - Sun Goes Down
Looking back on 2008, we breathe a dramatic sigh of relief that this jumped-up Mini-Mika never lived up to the hype this shoddy mess of a single insinuated. Camp to the point it was actually strangely eerie, it was hard not to watch David Jordan perform this monstrosity without wanting to shower vigorously afterwards. Ah well – you rip off the almighty Wizbit, you end up a one-hit wonder. Now that’s magic.

5. Mika – Lollipop
Oh, and look! Here’s the man herself! Pay attention David Jordan, this is how you pass high-pitched effeminate baloney off as a singing career. Lollipop actually failed to make the Top 40 as a stand-alone single, but its mere existence alone was enough to instil terror in anyone with taste. Mercifully, 2008 was otherwise quiet on the Mika front – is it too much to hope he and David Jordan killed one another in a particularly gory hair-pulling bitchfight?

4. Scouting For Girls - I Wish I Was James Bond
In fairness, we’ve probably liked a Scouting For Girls song. However, that was prior to them re-recording said song under eleven different titles and carpet-bombing the nation with them. By far the worst offender was this, a shameless cash-in on the James Bond mediafest, and although it didn’t perform particularly well, its eye-gougingly awful tune and wholly embarrassing lyrical run-through of past Bond actors would induce a big enough cringe to turn you inside out. Someone give these morons the Sing-a-long-a-Scouting-For-Girls series on Nick Jr they deserve, and leave the rest of us well alone.

3. Boyzone - Love You Anyway
The most irksome, exasperating, lodged-inside-your-brain-until-death-presents-itself-as-the-only-viable-option shitcunt of a tune this year came courtesy of Boyzone, who evidently invoked some majorly dark magicks to create a song this vulgarly infectious. The persecution of the ears that comes with the sound of Ronan Keating’s voice only played the tiniest part in what made Love You Anyway so unbearable – yes, it really was that bad of a song.

2. Adele - Chasing Pavements
Now, much has been made on these hallowed pages about the visual side of Adele, but we have to clarify, her weight is by no means the issue – moreover, it’s her sullen, slappable face and permanently-downturned codmouth. She’s like a walking bad mood in a shapeless black smock. And as if to provide the perfect aural accompaniment for such a sorry sight, along comes the morbidly depressing fuckwittery of Chasing Pavements, commandeering the airwaves and throwing the nation into inconsolable despair. In fact, we’d bet this pus-filled hag and her ballad of bollocks are indirectly responsible for the economic crisis...

1. Katy Perry - I Kissed A Girl
And just – and that’s literally only just – beating Adele’s vile anthem of funereal flab to the top spot is the vacuous, white-trash slurry-party known as Katy Perry. Aside from the cheap, mock-coquettish, home-made moneyshot of a song, Perry’s sluttish desperation to look titillating in every single item of visual media fails on all counts, and only serves to make her look almost as big a dead-eyed cocksucker as the Pussycat Trolls themselves. Tell you what, love, if you’re that keen on some girl-on-girl action to grab another headline or shift another few units, why not check yourself into HMP Holloway...?

Saturday, December 27, 2008

The Sloppy Dog's Best of 2008: Singles

Our countdown continues with the ten best singles of 2008, of which there’s a few surprise entries from bands we’ve been less than complimentary about in the past. But hey, a time for forgiveness and all that.

Just missing the cut are gems from Stereophonics, Duffy, Sia, Solange and We Are Scientists, as are guilty pleasures from Flo Rida, Miley Cyrus and Will.I.Am featuring HRH Queen Cheryl of Hearts. But we begin at Number Ten...

10. Kings of Leon – Sex on Fire
Deservedly claiming their first chart-topper with the greatest single of their career, it’s refreshing to see a chart position correlating with how good a song is (one would generally think a #1 is possible with any old shit sneezed out *cough*Rihanna*cough*). Sex on Fire was a potent, dynamic, thunderous rock anthem, fully equipped with violently fantastic melodies, and finally justified the mammoth Kings of Leon hypefest.

9. Estelle & Kanye West – American Boy
It was a blessed relief to see the comeback of Estelle, given her sorely underwhelming debut The 18th Day, but we’d have never expected she’d make quite the impact she did on her return. Teaming up with Kanye West at his finest, American Boy proved to be an immediate, exuberant and inventive airwave-hogger of a song.

8. Red Light Company – Meccano
A big, shouty treat that blessed our ears (but sadly, not the charts) back in August, Red Light Company couldn’t have introduced themselves to the world any better. Melding hard Britpop riffage with rounded terrace hollers, all peppered with the occasional sprinkle of twinkle, Meccano proved to be the calling card for a band worth getting very, very excited about.

7. Coldplay – Viva La Vida
Another shock entry, given (a) our general feelings towards Coldplay, and (b) the overkill this song suffered at the hands of Apple ads and patriotic Olympic montages. However, once lured by the direct hook, the lush string arrangements acted as an instantaneous spine-tingler, while the anthemic chants only added to the overall magnificence.

6. The Killers – Human
After a shockingly shit album in the form of the laughable Sam’s Town, it looked unlikely that the Killers would ever match the glory of Hot Fuss again. Then along comes Human, a rapturous amalgam of dancefloor and mosh pit that put them firmly back into our good books. Ironically, it went down like a lead balloon with pretty much everyone else...

5. VV Brown – Crying Blood
Yes, it was daft. Yes, it was throwaway. Yes, it sounded worryingly like the Monster Mash. Yes, only 0.00002% of music buyers even heard it. But the ridiculously superb Crying Blood was a refreshing, no-holds-barred, joyful slap in the chops from an artist who carries absolute masses of potential for 2009. We await the album with the itchiest of anticipation.

4. The Maccabees – Toothpaste Kisses
Only just making it into our list, having charted way back on January 7th (albeit at No. 70...), the Maccabees followed up the regimental indie charm of Precious Time with something entirely different in the shape of Toothpaste Kisses. The gentle strums and soothing vocals made for an understated lullaby, further highlighting the versatility and the greatness of the Maccabees.

3. One Night Only – Just For Tonight
Note to anyone planning to launch a music career in 2009 – this is the way to do a debut single (granted, the initial release of You & Me came out beforehand, but it bombed like a mofo, so we’ll graciously discount that). Big, soaring hooks atop a thumping beat made Just For Tonight an immediate, effortless classic. And although it was a shame that the album failed to match the splendour of the single, Just For Tonight was, on all levels, nothing less than flawless.

2. Little Jackie – The World Should Revolve Around Me
Having already been appointed the best album of the year, now claiming an additional silver medal with the second greatest track of 2008 are Little Jackie. Their quirky, breezy masterpiece The World Should Revolve Around Me was equal parts brazen and charming, infectious beyond words, and managed to combine elements of comedy with unrivalled musicianship. How this didn’t become the biggest-selling song of the year is anyone’s guess (oh, that’s right – we live in a country where people don’t ‘get’ anything that’s not Leona cunting Lewis).

1. Weezer – Pork & Beans
And finally, we reach our favourite single of the past 12 months. While most people will only be aware of the accompanying video showcasing the greatest hits of YouTube, there’s a great deal to be said for Pork & Beans as a song. The genius mind of Rivers Cuomo hoists a polite middle-finger as he cements his defiance to conform to an idea of visual perfection – a sort of alt-rock take on Slaguilera’s Beautiful, perhaps? Bursting with a blend of wit, magic, energy and melody that only Weezer could formulate, it’s yet another example of a band who physically cannot produce a bad song.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Sloppy Dog's Worst of 2008: TV

And so we come to the first negative assemblage in our End Of Year polls, and not before time either, as all that gushing about greatness really takes its toll.
As is often the case in telly world, there’s been no shortage of shockingly bad material splattered on our screens over the last 12 months, but we’ve painstakingly whittled it down to ten. Let the bile flow...

10. Britannia High
From the ashes of DanceX comes... an even bigger pile of ashes. Quite blatantly an attempt to pad the coffers of ITV rather than push inventive, original, entertaining programming, Britannia High was, in every way imaginable, a shameless imitation of High School Musical. Although whoever dreamt up the concept of a song-and-dance routine about dyslexia needs to get onto the creators of Avenue Q, in case they’re plotting a sequel...

9. Skins
Thankfully, our eyes were only briefly exposed to the carnage of Series Two. Even more of a relief was the considerable downsizing of pre-series publicity, although even the comparably modest coverage this year was like a passage from 1984 come to life. The few glimpses we were cursed with, however, were as empty and loathsome as anything the self-congratulatory, smug, contrived train-wreck of a show managed in Series One.

8. The Jeremy Kyle Show
Another repeat offender in our list, we barely saw enough minutes of The Jeremy Kyle Show throughout the year to count on one hand. And yet, those few experiences were enough to burn onto the brain that Jeremy Kyle, his guests, the entire production team, and anyone who gets any kind of pleasure from this malformed mutant of a programme, is a complete and utter cunt.

7. Never Mind The Buzzcocks
It’s boasted some killer guests (particular mention must go to Josh Groban – not a sentence we ever imagined being uttered on these hallowed pages), but overall, the execrable, cowardly, hateful Simon Amstell made a complete and utter pig’s ear of what was once an enormously entertaining show. If the sad little bully wants to have a passive-aggressive crywank, can’t he do it on his own time?

6. Lily Allen & Friends
Since Lily herself has openly slated this manurefest of a show, it doesn’t say much for the quality. A desperate attempt to jump onto every social networking bandwagon imaginable, albeit a good three years behind the rest of the developed world, the cobwebbed corners of the internet were dragged out and showcased by a presenter who seemed genuinely embarrassed to be part of it. At least the deplorable Charlotte Church Show makes an effort...

5. For One Night Only
So end-of-the-pier it’s practically on the ocean floor, For One Night Only was a return to ghastly variety sensibilities for ITV1 earlier this year. It must be said, the fact that they made an attempt to bring music and comedy into a prime-time setting is certainly noble, but the execution of it made for a watch-through-your-fingers bloodbath. Vernon Kay offering “old-fashioned razzle dazzle” – and no, we’re sadly not paraphrasing – surely must be a mark of the devil?

4. Kerry Katona: Whole Again
In fairness, it’s not necessarily Kerry herself that we find so objectionable (although, it must be said, the hopeless, naive, white-trash scumpig cements everything that’s wrong with the human race just by waking up in the morning), it’s more the way in which her pitiable life is showcased for entertainment purposes. Ray Cokes, you are cordially invited to nuke MTV UK and start it again from scratch.

3. The DFS ad
Without a shadow of a doubt the worst advertisement since the repugnant Frosties ad topped our Worst Of chart two years ago, DFS once again underline themselves as bastions of consistently cuntish commercials. The green screens, the oversized sofas, the jobbing actors air-guitaring their dignity to eternal damnation, and of course, fucking Rockstar by bastard Nickelback collectively create an amalgam of evil that could only a voiceover from Fearne Cotton could worsen.

2. The Hills
Another gargantuan stinker courtesy of MTV One – it would actually have been possible to compile this entire Top Ten solely from MTV programming, but we’ve actively chosen to avoid the shitpeddling station as much as possible (hence the absence of Living On The Edge). However, The Hills, in all its dead-eyed, vacuous, extraneous fakery , sadly slipped through our filters. How a show where precisely nothing happens each episode achieves such success is frightening.

1. Hole In The Wall
Come on, were you really expecting it to be anything else? Admittedly, Hole In The Wall is fully aware of its horrific, unforgivable out-and-out shitness, and in fact, revels in it. But its mere existence is what puzzles us so greatly. Somehow, a concept that perhaps would’ve functioned particularly well as a single round on a Takeshi’s Castle quarter-final has been tenuously stretched into a half-hour show, inexplicably commissioned by the BBC, and given a prime-time Saturday evening slot. Seriously, is this some sort of alternative nether-dimension where every minor detail is the same, except the Chuckle Brothers are heading up the Beeb?

Friday, December 19, 2008

The Sloppy Dog's Best of 2008: TV

Next in our End of Year gushfest, we coo over some of 2008’s best television shows. The razor-sharp brilliance of Brothers & Sisters, the enormously-entertaining irony carnival Bonekickers, the consistently hilarious Top Gear, the superb but prematurely-axed Reaper, and the ongoing excellence of Desperate Housewives all failed to make the cut, whilst we decided against listing The X Factor altogether – killer performances from Ruth and Alexandra cannot excuse the tiresome clichéfest, or more importantly, the presence of Eggnog Quigg. So which TV shows did make our list?

10. Torchwood
This year saw Torchwood find its feet after a somewhat rocky first series. The decision to give Owen the chop was a wise one, but it was the demise of Tosh which really underlined the emotional wallop Russell T. Davies is so capable of. The inclusion of James Marsters and Freema Agyeman certainly didn’t hinder proceedings either, but the captivating imagination in Meat or the truly baleful Reset are just two examples which underline Torchwood as much more than just a rebellious big sister to Doctor Who.

9. My Name Is Earl
A third consecutive appearance in our top telly list for My Name Is Earl, and deservedly so. Although the jail storyline managed to avoid potential formulism, it soon became massively restrictive; similarly, where Bobbie was initially an exciting prospect, she was retconned within all of five minutes. And yet, My Name Is Earl still boasts some of the wittiest, warmest, most original and most wonderfully un-PC material on television. And to further echo last year’s praise of Jaime Pressly, someone get this woman her own show. Kthxbai.

8. The Supersizers Go...
Prior to Giles Coren’s frankly vile leaked rant to an unsuspecting sub putting him firmly on Santa’s naughty list, his travels into the larders of yesteryear made for some of 2008’s funniest – as well as stomach-churning and oddly enlightening – TV moments. Particular props, however, must be awarded to Sue Perkins, whose description of calf’s foot jelly as being “the colour of sadness” invoked some of the most uncouth laughter in Sloppy Dog Towers this year.

7. Samantha Who?
Although, on the surface, it may have appeared a tad oestrogen-heavy, the quick, inventive and brilliantly-executed Samantha Who was by far the greatest new US import of the year. Proving to be the perfect vehicle for the exceptional talents of Christina Applegate, the uproarious ensemble of Melissa McCarthy, Jean Smart, Jennifer Esposito and Barry Watson only added to the pleasure. N.B. US network people – axe this and we’ll hunt your asses down.

6. Dead Set
Charlie Brooker’s intense, mesmerizing zombiefest lived up to everything it promised. Playing on any number of TV industry clichés as well as highlighting everything we both love and hate about Big Brother gave this gore-fiesta a novel backbone, while the contrast of performances (the emotive dramatic work of Liz May Brice and hysterically inappropriate madness from Andy Nyman in particular) set the tone for the show overall – we didn’t know whether to laugh, vomit or hide behind the sofa.

5. Heroes
Perhaps it was off the back of unfaltering internet criticism that we were expecting bad things of Series Two (sorry, "Chapter" Two – our geek credentials are pretty thin on the ground), but it turned out, surprisingly, to be exceptionally good. And in spite of Chapter Three having taken a while to get going, the gripping finale was a true return to form. We’ve got everything crossed they bring back both Claude and Monica for the next series, but regardless, the teaser tacked to the end of Villains carries the promise of another electrifying chapter.

4. The Restaurant
Once again completely pwning the increasingly-unpleasant The Apprentice, the effortless charm and enthrallment of The Restaurant has become a benchmark in how to do reality television. We were chuffed to see Russell and Michele win out, although special mention must to go James and Alasdair, AKA Sweaty & The Bitch, for their power to induce cringes simultaneously across BBC Two’s entire viewership. And as much as we adore Sarah Willingham, there'll be Calippos served in Hell before we ever had her round our gaff for dinner...

3. Britain's Got The Pop Factor
It’s almost impossible to select a key moment from this extensive treasure chest of hilarity – 2 Up 2 Down’s calamitous duet with Rick Astley; R Wayne’s rendition of Return to Innocence; Rustie Lee playing the Sinitta to Dr Fox’s Simon Cowell; the Cheeky Girls acting as musical directors; Paul McCartney singing the Home & Away theme; the uproarious segue from Nelson Mandela to Umbrella... the list is endless. For this masterpiece alone, Peter Kay deserves an OBE.

2. Doctor Who
Once again, the BBC must be doing backflips – actual, not proverbial – that they agreed to reinstate Doctor Who. Four series in, and it shows no signs of growing even remotely state, thanks in no small part to the incomparable pairing of David Tennant and Catherine Tate. It must be said, we didn’t quite 'get' Midnight the way everyone else seemed to, and the conclusion to Donna’s tale was sorely uncomfortable, but the striking poignancy of Turn Left, the classic storytelling of Partners In Crime, and the sheer enormity of The Stolen Earth prove just why the BBC got it right. Let’s hope they do the same with Top of the Pops...

1. Summer Heights High
And it’ll come as no surprise to anyone who’s been on the receiving end of many a Mr G classic line that Summer Heights High is crowned Best TV Show of 2008. Chris Lilley’s frighteningly astute portrayal of three very different characters gave the series its foundations, while the delightfully awkward situations, the surprising display of sentiment and the jaw-droppingly tasteless dialogue proved to be the gargantuan cherries on the top. And if only we could bring ourselves to complete THAT unspeakable “Thank God you’re here...” line, we’d also be provided with Quote of the Year. As it is, we’ll have to settle for “I’d rather be a paedophile than a lesbian”.
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