Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Blunt honesty

Chris "I called my daughter Apple and yet I still expect you to take me seriously" Martin, at last night's Brit Awards: "Stop giving James Blunt such a hard time. He's British; be proud of him."

First of all, we can only apologise unreservedly. We didn't think about how hard it must be for James Blunt, what with having one of the most played songs on radio last year, album sales going through the roof, shitloads of critical acclaim, people falling over themselves to give him awards, even ones for which he is bafflingly unsuited (Best Pop Act, anyone?), being on the verge of breaking America...need we go on? We bet he just cry, cry, cries in his lonely heart thinking if there's nothing missing in his life, then why do these tears come at night? Actually, he probably cries into a big bag of money (TM Ray Romano).

Second of all, do you know who else is British, Chris? Jennifer Ellison. And Lisa Scott-Lee. Should we be proud of their contributions to the music industry? Oh, and Mischa Barton; she may have got her American citizenship recently, but she's still technically British so we should be proud of those mad acting skillz that she displays on The OC every week. And that's before we start rolling off enormous lists of British criminals and/or murderers, not that you think we aren't proud of those too.

Come on Chris, can't you think of a better reason to be proud of James Blunt?

Come to think of it, we couldn't.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Lowri Turncoat

There are many things about the modern world that we don't quite understand. The appeal of MySpace, for example, or why nobody else we know gets that strange feeling of nausea and shame when they read heat magazine. Another is the concept of giving an entire page of a newspaper over to somebody of no great importance, so that they can tell us all about the horrors of their most recent gas bill, or that person who was rude to them that one time on the bus. Who cares? Why can't these losers get a livejournal like the rest of us?

Our spiritual leader Media Monkey has drawn our attention to a particularly frustrating example, namely the Lowri Turner column in the Western Mail. Lowri Turner, for those of you who don't remember, was the erstwhile heir to the throne of daytime TV, who for some reason never quite reached her coronation and was overthrown by the infinitely more evil Lorne Spicer. Lowri, we're sure you'll be thrilled to discover, does not believe that gay men would make good party leaders or prime ministers, because apparently they can't have children (someone's not been reading the papers) and are "too divorced from the norm". After all, she points out, her gay friends' biggest dilemma is "whether to have a black sofa or a cream one."

While Monkey has already addressed most of the things that are inherently stupid in such a comment (and if we keep linking to people who can point out the stupidity of others better than we, we're going to blog ourselves right out of a job), we would like to point out to Ms. Turner that not all gay men are afflicted with terminal cases of soft furnishing-related indecision. Indeed, some of us wouldn't even buy a sofa for the sole reason of having sex on it. Gay men come in all shapes, sizes, and varieties of opinion (although of course they're all fabulous). We've met rather a lot of media types who consider themselves to be right-on with The Gays, but can only deal with them in an "oh aren't they cute?", distanced kind of way and will always privately admit that they consider the whole thing a bit wrong but they'll never get up the career ladder if they admit it publicly.

If we can further analyse her ramblings, she believed that gays can't be PM because they don't have children, and thus can't understand about MMR or schools. So presumably childless straights can't either? Her whole logic is that you have to have experienced something directly in order to legislate on it. Thus she wants a PM who has been a parent, a teacher, a dinner lady, a tube driver, a policeman, a fireman, a nurse, a doctor, a dentist, a solider and presumably a pensioner? It's not that we especially mind her having that opinion, we just object to how incredibly incoherent and poorly-argued the whole thing was.

Our best suggestion at this point is for Lowri to widen her social circle - perhaps to make some new gay friends with a slightly more informed world view. Then again, if her "friends" read her column, she might find she needs some new ones anyway.

Friday, February 03, 2006

In defence of the internet

While perhaps not requiring the same level of bile that we directed at Daniel Radcliffe: Music Pundit the other day, we are getting quite tired of people who decide that the internet is responsible for everything that goes wrong in the world these days.

Case in point: a feature on BBC Breakfast this morning on the demise of Smash Hits. We are as saddened by this news as anybody, since we were avid readers of said publication back in the Mark Frith years. The Telegraph's Neil McCormick (who seems generally a decent and savvy bloke, and this is in no way intended as an attack on him directly) suggested that the reason Smash Hits ended up, irony of ironies, going down The Dumper, was because of the internet. Apparently the appeal of Smash Hits was the ready availability of pop music and song lyrics, both of which can now be found with the merest of Googling.

Well, not quite, Mr McCormick. The demise of Smash Hits can be chiefly attributed to the fact that where it once was a witty, well-written chronicle of all things pop that could be cheerfully irreverent when it needed to be, somewhere along the line it became a glorified poster magazine that sacrificed its bite and edge for endless discussions over who was the buffest member of Busted or Blazin' Squad, a tacky design that would have been more at home in Fast Forward magazine in the eighties and which bafflingly always seemed to leave large chunks of the magazine containing neither text nor pictures, and an editorial standard somewhere along the level of the Peter and Jane books. There are few (if any) pop music magazines nowadays that could hold a candle to Smash Hits back when it was on form, but the current incarnation of the magazine itself was the absolute least of these. The internet cannot be held entirely responsible for this one, Smash Hits had become a shadow of its former self and its folding was only a matter of time. Now, if you'd tried to pin the blame on former editor Kate Thornton, we might have been with you on that one.

Monday, January 30, 2006

My cred iz pastede on yey

Is anyone else as alarmed as we are by the apparent rise of Daniel Radcliffe: Music Pundit?

As is our habit, we were lying in bed last night listening to Radio 4 while we were dozing off to sleep, and there was a news report about the Arctic Monkeys, and how they've shattered first week album sales records by being the first band in the history of forever to have a website, or something. The report included a soundbite from Jarvis Cocker, the point of which we can understand due to the Sheffield connection. Less logical, and indeed somewhat baffling, was the second soundbite from the aforementioned Mr Radcliffe, who seemed saddened by this news. Apparently the mainstream success of the Arctic Monkeys is inconvenient for him, because he felt a sense of ownership having heard the band "when no one else liked them" at the Reading festival, and how he liked that because he could say that he liked the Arctic Monkeys and people would apparently respond "oh, you must be cool, because I haven't heard of them."

Where to begin with this one? Well, for starters we'd imagine that seeing a band at a festival with tens of thousands of other music fans right beside you sharing the experience doesn't quite have the same grassroots-level cachet as picking up a white label from the back of a dusty pile in a shop in the most obscure backstreets of Camden. Indeed, this is rather like claiming that you're responsible for people finding out about Will Young because you voted in the first week of the Pop Idol finals, and that everyone else is jumping on the bandwagon that you started. (Sadly, we are all too willing to believe that some people would really say that.)

On another matter, the quality of a record does not decrease gradually as more and more copies are sold. To claim that other people starting to like a band that you've liked for a while somehow makes your enjoyment less pure is ridiculous; indeed it paints you as the worst kind of music snob, someone who cares far more about how your music collection will make you look than about the music itself. Obviously everyone who bought the Arctic Monkeys album last week should feel very guilty for allowing their unrefined, hype-following, credibility-contaminating tastes to be connected in any way to Daniel's. He got his tastes from a musky record shop in Islington in 1997 for 63p, you know.

Further to this, we've liked and followed our fair share of totally obscure acts in our time, and we cannot think of a single occasion where anyone has assumed that we must be cool because we like an act that they've never heard of. It's usually more a case of "oh, that's nice" and then they return to discussing vinyl flooring, the price of Stilton, the latest John Grisham potboiler or whatever it was they were talking about beforehand. If the people Daniel talks to genuinely believe that anyone who can reel of a list of obscure bands is cool, it is quite possibly because they, like he, are sixteen, and hence not overly difficult to impress.

While Daniel may find it distressing that his taste in music is no longer distinctive enough, we're sure that if he looks hard enough, he can find lots of things about himself that are unusual for someone of his age, and would make for excellent conversational gambits. The size of his bank account, for example.

The sad thing is, we really cannot lay all the blame for this at Mr Radcliffe's door. After all, someone somewhere asked for his opinion in order to get it into the broadcast. Why? Famous he might be, but chronicler of the changing state of the commercial music industry he is not. He is, indeed, no more qualified to comment on this matter than our next-door neighbour, and we didn't see anyone knocking on her door to conduct a vox pop.

Perhaps we've got the purpose of this blog a bit wrong; we shouldn't be ragging on the annoying and pointless things that people say when someone shoves a microphone at them. We should be asking questions about the people who are doing the shoving. But where would the fun be in that?

STOP PRESS: Now with tosserific digitalspy link! Or why not click here to see what the folks over at Oh No They Didn't made of this, since they're funnier and bitchier than we could ever hope to be?