Sunday, March 29, 2009

Single Reviews 30/03/09

The clocks have gone forward, the weather is scarily sporadic, even bloody Countryfile is moving slots. Is there no consistency in the world anymore?! Can we rely on nothing?! Well, you can rely on our Single Reviews (most of the time), and, if you read on, you’ll also find that you can rely on the Pussycat Dolls to be talentless trollops.

Given her lack of UK success and supposed spat with US label boss Jay-Z , we were a tad worried we’d seen the last of Lady Sovereign. And yet, here she is, back with a radio-friendly but uncompromising display of personality in the Cure-sampling masterpiece that is So Human. Classically hilarious and adept Sov, but with a 2009 renovation, it’s an easily-bestowed Single of the Week.

Another returning party from the Caucasian rap quarter this week comes in the form of Just Jack, with the outstanding Embers. Tingle-inducing strings and cheeky handclaps provide an exceptional backing for the inimitably frank vocals that rightfully made the nation’s ears prick up, although it seems undiluted, straight-down-the-line singing has overtaken the Home Counties hip-hop leanings as Jack’s calling card.

Bastardising the joyous climax to Slumdog Millionaire are the grotesque Pussycat Dolls, who take a break from spreading venereal disease their paltry R&B to dry-hump the Oscars bandwagon. And while Nicole’s backing scutters provide precisely NO vocals to Jai Ho (You Are My Destiny) whatsoever, the head harlot herself fails to even pronounce the song’s title correctly. As if offences against music and feminism weren’t enough, they’re now guilty for crimes against cinema.

And finally, yet another one-man electrofest to add to the pile, although thankfully Frankmusik is evidently a cut above many of his contemporaries. Most people from Thornton Heath leave a trail of greasy chicken boxes behind them, so the fact alone that he’s amounted to something more than a feral mong on the 109 warrants massive respect, and that’s even before you consider the catchy – if slightly jaded – charms of Better Off As Two. FYI, Calvin Harris, you may want to take note...

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Honking Box Review: The Apprentice

If you weren’t aware that the new series of The Apprentice came to BBC One last night, then we’d quite like to know how you manage to switch off from all aspects of popular culture so easily – perhaps it’s some sort of pill you can take to block out certain entities? If so, put us down for a full prescription of forget-Fearne-Cotton-entirely (max strength).

For the rest of you, we’re not even sure why we’re bothering to cover the first episode, given the saturation it’ll already have provoked across the media. But hey, never one to turn down the opportunity to slag off reality contestants,

The first challenge saw the suited smarmfests getting their hands dirty – just like salt-of-the-earth hardworking man’s man Sralan Sugar did back int’day – working as cleaners. Cue the same old blend of blaming, fingerpointing, bitching and whining.

At this stage, it’s hard to determine who we like or don’t like. Actually, strike that – it’s hard to determine who we like, but a piece of piss to pick out the real tosspots. Early fuckwittery comes from the Phillip Taylor, who looks as though he’s made of plasticine and sounds as though he should be voicing a sock puppet; gobby ballcrusher and chronic oldface sufferer Debra Barr; and Noorul Choudhury, who we’re sure is actually a struggling actor who’s created the archetypal Apprentice twat character and is seeing how long he can play him without being rumbled.

Also on our ‘no’ pile would be the gent who uttered the following words on discovering the plush surroundings of the contestants’ penthouse...

“It’s SO feng shui!”
“I feel like Diddy!”
“King of the World!”

Sadly, we didn’t catch the visuals of whose execrable mouth these came out of – we were only provided with the audio, so we cannot attribute such bastardly foolish quotes to a specific cock. However, we did see – repeatedly – Mona Lewis uttering “at the end of the day” to a magnitude only ever reserved for jelly-brained Big Brother housemates, which adds yet another specimen to the cons list.

Not that there aren’t a few likeable characters in there. Kimberley Davis, the seemingly-proficient American with an apparent penchant for honesty; Majid Nagra, who’s already carving himself out as an endearingly hapless buffoon; the marvellously ginger Paula Jones; and Yasmina Siadatan, who looks sort of like a mouldy clone of the lovely Grace Dent, all seem to display a few traits of normalcy, or at least as much as is feasible from an Apprentice contestant.

The rest, we’re yet to come to a conclusion on, or are too boring to suss out at this particular point in the game. Of course, Nick Hewer and Margaret Mountford remain the true stars of the show, and we await Margaret’s cutting eye-rolls and Nick’s outstanding expressions of bafflement with genuine excitement. Sralan, miraculously, comes across as significantly less cunty than in previous series, although just one episode in, we’re sure that’ll change.

But overall, one of the most interesting aspects of The Apprentice last night was the reminder of just how unbelievably stressful it is to watch. The backstabbing, the weaselry, the accusations... it’s a solid hour of televised office politics, and it’s far from entertaining. And sure, it’s always been a key component of the show, but it reaches a point where it begins to grate, and heavily at that. We’re sure that there’ll be another moment of comedy gold, a la Simon Ambrose’s accidental trampoline wank, or Tre Azam’s killer one-liners, but we’re unlikely to reach it before we’ve been prompted to report the entire series to HR for unprofessionalism and gross misconduct.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Single Reviews 23/03/09

Hello. Here are some nice Single Reviews for you. It’s looking rather likely that we’ll be updating things a tad more regularly now, given that we’re back from our travels. And also because the new Facebook layout puts us right off the site, allowing us more time to blog ourselves stupid. Seriously, Facebook people, you’re not Twitter. Sort it out. Incidentally, coming soon – The Sloppy Dog on Twitter. Yikes.

We kick things off with a duet from the somewhat odd pairing of Enrique Iglesias & Ciara. We’ll brush past the awkward moment where they sing each other’s names, to find that Takin’ Back My Love is thankfully considerably closer to Enrique’s duet with Kelis than the train wreck with Whitney Houston, taking the form of a worryingly catchy Euro-thumper with a sizeable helping of cheese.

Next up, Single of the Week is bestowed upon the taut, anthemic frostiness of Farewell To The Fairground, the career pinnacle thus far of White Lies. Ordinarily, we’d be a tad suspicious of a band with so many Bowmanesque bandwagon cocksuckers in their wake, but the mighty riffage and towering vocals soon break through and promptly annihilate any potential stigma.

The novelty drag nightmare that is Lady GaGa wheels out another offering from her dress-up box of oafish electro, although Poker Face is in fact quite an accomplished and pleasing effort. And it’s mercifully less shit than Just Dance, whose inexplicable popularity has made it one of the most overplayed songs of the year, so it’s safe to say overkill will probably dilute any positives Poker Face has to offer.

And on the subject of overkill, we come to this week’s final release, courtesy of The Noisettes. While you may not think you’ve heard Don’t Upset The Rhythm, its appearance on the Mazda ads mean it’s already slap-bang in the middle of your consciousness. It’s fun, inventive, raw and memorable – classic Noisettes – but when you’re effectively sick to the back teeth of a song well ahead of its release, it’s time to worry.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Honking Box Preview: American Idol

Hello! We’re back from our wee jaunt across the pond, and while we don’t have any gems to bring you from the six-song playlist of XL 106.7 this time around, we’ve not neglected you completely. On our trip, we visited the American Idol Experience at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, completely for research purposes, of course.

Although toe-curlingly embarrassing at points (hello, Jordin Sparks’ horrifying interval video), the whole thing was actually very well executed. And if the winning act, a band-camp balladeer named Cara Something, does the business on next year’s show, we’re claiming we discovered her. We’ll just brush over the fact we actually voted for someone else...

But that’s a whole year away. For now, let’s focus on the high-gloss live finals, which kicked off last week. We had actually wanted to bring you a full recap of all twelve finalists, but bizarre scheduling meant the Wild Card show was randomly slotted in a week early, not to mention the additional thirteenth finalist throwing proceedings into further disarray. So you’ll have to make do with our rundown of the remaining eleven...

Kris Allen
Ah, you gotta love these filler contestants – the ones that pad out the live shows until we’re only left with the artists that people actually care about (see also: Scott Bruton, Chikezie, Gospel Simone out of Fame Academy, anyone in I’d Do Anything who wasn’t Jodie Prenger). Although now we’ve said that, he’ll probably reach the final. A killer voice but largely beige on any other level, all Kris brings to the party is his wholesome Christian schtick and the fact he resembles a shrunken Nick Lachey.

Danny Gokey
Effectively the US version of The X Factor’s Daniel Evans (i.e. they’re both called Daniel, and each are prompted to talk about their recently-deceased wives at every given opportunity), except this Danny actually has the pipes to handle the live shows. Looks a bit like Danny Wallace, who incidentally is another Daniel, although his wife is alive. A strong contender for the finals, Danny’s impressive vocals coupled with his backstory and his strong Christian values (another one!?) could see him go all the way.

Alexis Grace
It would appear pint-sized Alexis is the perennial rock contestant, although how she’d fare in a moshpit alongside Amanda Overmyer or Constantine Maroulis can only conjure up images of a veritable bloodbath. Alexis is one of those singers whose physical size prompts people to comment on the enormity of her voice – and yet, no-one batted an eyelid when the gigantic Michelle McManus somehow won Pop Idol with a reedy, tuneless cough.

Allison Iraheta
16-going-on-40, she may not look quite like a teenager, but Allison’s tremendous take on Heart’s Alone proved she doesn’t sound like one either, securing her a place in the Top 13 (at that point, merely a pedestrian, everyday Top 12). A far more convincing rock voice than Alexis, Allison boasts a powerhouse vocal that her co-wannabes should be very, very afraid of. And a scarlet hairdo that Idol stylists are probably very, very afraid of.

Anoop Desai
Flying the flag for geeks the world over, Anoop’s consistently impressive vocals prompted Simon to spontaneously create the thirteenth spot in the live finals. Not that it was pre-arranged with Fox and the entire production team or anything, oh no. Although the first live show put the self-styled ‘Noop Dogg in the bottom two, his hefty online following should see him progress pretty far.

Michael Sarver
Perhaps the most archetypal All-American contestant that Idol has ever seen, Michael is a Texan redneck (like, whoever thought that was a proper job title? Apparently, his proper role is ‘oil rig worker’, but far be it from us to contest the Idol producers), a devout Christian, and family man complete with two kiddies. Surely a walk-through on paper, but with three active God-botherers in this year’s finals, the fundie vote could be split.

Scott Macintyre
To quote the hapless moron that is Louis Walsh, “the poor guy’s blind, Simon!” – yes, Idol’s first visually-impaired finalist (a whole five series after 2 To Go on The X Factor), it’ll be interesting to see whether they choose to focus on (a) his striking voice, likeable nature, and remarkable piano skills, or (b) the fact that he has a disability. Either way, a place in the finals is almost a given.

Megan Joy Corkrey
This year’s official Vote For The Worst contestant, and rightly so – we can’t find a single reason this tuneless harpy even made it past the initial auditions. Particular mention must go to her weak, discordant honk butchering Put Your Records On (which she also bollocksed up the lyrics to, inadvertently creating a lesbianthem). However, her Rockin’ Robin was truly a sight to behold, possibly going down as the worst performance in Idol history.

Matt Giraud
Matt is a duelling piano player from Kalamazoo – a sentence which makes little sense to presumably 95% of the American Idol viewership, but sounds utterly fucking amazing. Looking like a touched-by-the-hand-of-God Justin Timberlake and peddling his own brand of white boy soul, Matt seems to have a lot going for him, and yet screams 10th place.

Lil Rounds
Already pre-equipped with a rapper name, surely stardom is a dead cert for mother-of-three Lil. Perhaps this year’s best female vocalist along from Allison, but her slightly generic quality makes her appear, at this stage anyway, a tad Fantasia-lite. Get yer personality out, love. Mind you, not having one at all didn’t stop Jordin Sparks winning...

Adam Lambert
A former star of Wicked and our current favourite in the absence of the awesome Jackie Tohn, it’s hard to pin Adam’s style down. A touch emo, a tad rockabilly, and a dash of glittery eye-shadow, he’s sorta like a gay David Cook. And although the overpronounced dramatics and Lloyd-Webber leanings detract ever so slightly, it’s hard not to notice Adam’s commercial relevance or, more importantly, the most impressive voice in the competition.
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