Saturday, April 29, 2006

Those Were The Halcyon Days

Those were the halcyon days:
The days when we walked on the scene.
Those were the halcyon nights:
The lights shining bright on the screen,
When we dreamed of creating machines
Waving sounds to our dreams.
Bodies Without Organs - Chariots of Fire
Now, I was worried that BWO's new - and fabulous - album Halcyon Days didn't have any self referencing in it - which if true would be so unlike Alexander Bard (officially the cleverest man in pop music).

After all this is the man who when behind Army of Lovers did a song called "My Army of Lovers". His later project Alcazar uses the band's name in the lyrics all the time (probably a mistake since the only rhyhmes they could come up with seemed to be "Star" and "Far" which got a tad repetitive after about three tracks), and the last BWO album Prototype had the chant "Bodies. Without Organs. Woah." repeated during the song "Walking the Night".

But whilst indulging in a swedish electro-pop overload on my work the other day, a track from Halcyon Days called "Marrakech" came on. And I finally realised what it is that Marina whispers in the middle of the track:

Come to my Moroccan garden
And witness the flowers of death.
Dance with the reptiles
On the graves of bodies without organs.
All of which manages to be both a reference that satisfies me entirely, and a little bit creepy in its own right.

Go them!

What's possibly more surprising is that Halcyon Days is the first album I can remember in ages which has slow or mid-tempo songs I actually like. I'm normally averse to anything which doesn't have a four-to-the-floor beat and pounding bass, but "Angel of Night", "Will My Arms Be Strong Enough" and "We Could Be Heroes" are just too good not to like.

There's enough upbeat stuff to entertain me, though. "Chariots of Fire", "Juggernaut" and "Haunted" are classic wonderous slices of anthemic europop that just make me grin and sway madly.

I also rather like "Crystal Odyssey" too. (I'm sure it's about methamphetamines though. Naughty BWO! Snigger.)

Friday, April 28, 2006

File Under: Balance (Lack Of)

I am, I must confess, fundamentally unbalanced.

This will not come as a surprise to many of my friends and acquaintances (and even less so to anyone I've ever been out with), but it's specifically being physically unbalanced that I'm referring to here: I can't seem to undertake any activity which requires such control.

Now, as we all know, balance is an ear thing which - considering I am more than adequately endowed on that front - you'd have thought would give me better capability than most. Sadly though, it's an inner-ear thing so that doesn't apply in this case.

Previously I would have said this wasn't a problem. I mean, I can go through life without really having to stand on one leg with both arms outstretched. I can survive without running along brick walls and have no desire to be a tight-rope-walker since such a desire would be countered by my fear of heights (or, more accurately, fear of drops).

But it seems I can't get away with having no balance at the gym. It's the sadist's fault. Depending on his mood he either has me doing lunges (where I wobble at each step back), makes me balance on a squidgy half ball whilst doing bicep curls (I invariably fall off), or comes up with some other equally strange combination of positions.

Yesterday I was doing push ups with my legs positioned on one of those large gym ball things and naturally my legs were rolling all over the place (accompanied by my squawks as I roll away).

The upshot is that each week I spend most of this time getting up and resetting my position as opposed to actually doing the exercise. I'm not convinced this is constructive.

Now I've tried asking him not to do anything which requires bodily co-ordination of this nature, but all to no avail. I am increasingly convinced that he's doing it not because it's a valuable part of my physical training but simply because he finds it funny.

Next week I fully expect to be balancing a platter of champagne flutes on my nose.

Probably whilst riding a unicycle.

A&E beckons.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

You Can't Say That on the News!

I am coming to the opinion that the BBC should put a ban on certain words ever being used in news stories. This isn't so much for censorship , purely on the grounds of sheer implied silliness you understand.

Today they have reported that Snoop Dogg has been arrested after a "fracas" at Heathrow Airport (story here).

Now, I love the word "fracas" I really do, but that's because it is to me a fundamentally silly sounding word. Something about it completely belies the noisy brawl it represents. It's posh, almost euphimistic and possibly even a little bit poncy. It's the sort of word Kenneth Williams would have given so much nasally-sounding and nostril-flaring spin to that it simply cannot be taken seriously under any circumstances.

Thus it should clearly never be used in a serious news article. Fact.

Someone at the BBC clearly has a very sly sense of humour.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Bleary Eyed and Covered in Cinnamon

My sleep has been somewhat disrupted of late, but last night - after a run through with a self-hypnosis tape - I managed to obtain some deep (if still somewhat fractured) sleep and woke up early this morning feeling rather motivated to do stuff.

Sadly one of the things that hadn't quite caught up with this motivation was my ability to see bad things happening well in advance. And so it was that I opened my cupboard door, thought "look at the state of that", and proceeded to start organising it so I could actually see what was in there again.

One shelf was relatively easily organised and so I attacked the second. Moments later I moved a jar and a couple of precariously balanced spice packets tumbled towards me.

One, miraculously, survived the sudden plummet. One however I had clearly not pegged shut and so within a matter of seconds my previously cleaned and tidied shelf, plus my arm, and the worksurface and items below were totally covered in brown powder.

I closed my eyes for a moment then waited for the dustcloud to settle somewhat before I swore.

At this point I went and grabbed one of my better purchases from the living room - a nicely charged up Dustbuster - and hoovered my merry little way around the place before grabbing a cloth and resolving never to do something like that first thing in the morning ever again.

I swear I can still smell cinnamon even now.

(And yes... I'm gay, I'm neurotic and I have a Dustbuster. I am Will Truman and I claim my five pounds.)

Intelligence at Last!

Spam filtering's getting better, you know.

I get regular emails inviting me to be in the audience for various independent light entertainment productions for television. My natural indolence (not to mention my general disdain for any premise which feels like it should contain the words "and much hilarity ensues") generally prevents me from attending them, but I live in hope that one day something entertaining might turn up and catch my eye.

Each week these arrive in my email inbox, I scan through them, and finally delete.

Only to my surprise today's went straight in my "Junk E-Mail" folder.

I took a quick scan. I can only assume the words "Dale Winton" triggered the spam filter off. I had no idea Microsoft had improved their product's intelligence so much.

Yay them!

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Tooth and Claw

Well after last week's gruesome but lightweight "New Earth", Doctor Who 2006 this week turned out a much improved episode in the form of Queen Victoria / Werewolf action-fest "Tooth and Claw".

I only have one reservation, mind, which I shall get out of the way immediately: the announcement of the formation of the Torchwood Institute at the end seemed to me a tad forced. It all suddenly got tacked on at the end in a big "I shall form an institute" speech, rather than being rather more subtly played out with a sort "I've got an idea" bit that could then have been picked up in the Torchwood series itself (acts of Parliament forming it in 1889 or whatever).

Still, it's kind of what I've come to expect from RTD now - the "Bad Wolf" thing from last year aside, he's not good at seeding his ideas thinly, that boy. And considering how fabulous the rest of it was, I think he can probably be forgiven.

Now I'd heard a rumour that the production team had been told to kick the historicals up the arse a bit, and from the look of it they certainly did. Last year's were excellent, I thought, but the 2006 season seems determined to push further at what the production team and writers can do. There was humour, the action sequences were pacy, snappy and well-executed, and the character moments were wonderfully affecting yet never overdone. Everything just seemed tight, germane and yet not rushed.

And if that wasn't enough it looked simply stunning. The word "cinematic", I feel, would not be at all inappropriate. Euros Lyn is not only rather hot with a lovely welsh accent, but is also more importantly a brilliant director who clearly meshes brilliantly with what is now an expert team. The bleached moorland exteriors reminded me very much of the style of Tim Burton's "Sleepy Hollow" - a film with visuals I've always found breathtakingly beautiful - and the interiors were suitably gloomy and atmospheric given the trapped feel and oppressive nature of the story.

I must confess I was so taken with it overall I felt compelled to watch it again minutes after Confidential had finished. This, believe it or not, is actually something of a first.

Normally I leave at least a day.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Light Before Day

I spent vast quantities of yesterday afternoon in a state of heart-pumping adrenaline-fuelled disturbance. A great many Kalms tablets were consumed and I resorted to playing Smetna's Ma Vlast in the background, but neither were able to steady my nerves.

The problem was that I recently obtained a copy of the latest novel by Christopher Rice: Light Before Day. And it was brilliant, an absolute unputdownable page-turner, but certainly a harrowing read. A dizzingly plotted journey through a world populated by child-abusers, pornographers, meth-dealers and serial killers in West Hollywood, its central character being a alcoholic wannabe investigative journalist still smarting from a failed relationship with a manipulative ex-marine.

I've loved Rice's work ever since I was recommended The Snow Garden a couple of years back. I quickly moved on to his debut novel A Density of Souls and I've been waiting for the publication of Light Before Day for ages. He has a genius for the gothic which few can touch - gothic really being about buried secrets rather than castles and fainting heroines.

There are few writers who get me genuinely fired up about writing myself, but Rice is definitely one of them. I can heartily recommend giving him a try.

My head's still spinning even now.

http://www.christopherricebooks.com

Sunday, April 23, 2006

The Non-Event

On Friday I finally entered the last year of my twenties.

It was probably one of the most ghastly days I've had in ages.

Not for the aging thing. I'm actually quite happy with growing old and am looking forward to my thirties enormously. I think thirty will suit me - my twenties have been decidedly mixed and a lot of them vaguely wasted. (Besides which I've always felt older than my peers so regard hitting the big three oh as more "catching up" than a big change.)

No, the day just started badly and went downhill from there. A contract note from Finspreads arrived saying I'd lost £121 quid overnight on my spread-betting account. I also received several anonymous Happy Birthday emails from Gaydar and other websites trying to give me the idea that they value me and not just my money (and you know I didn't even remember being on one of them). I muttered dark things about it just being another ordinary Friday, threw some money down for the cleaner and then went to work.

And work was hell. It's been one of those weeks really. Fiendishly busy, made even harder by one of our team members being on long-term sick and one being on holiday. This was bad enough but on Friday the boss was also at a meeting in Stockholm which left me in charge (I mean... me! Fools!) of only one other person. Both of us then had to deal with a higher influx of issues than normal that would also normally be dealt with by twice as many people.

By the end of the day I was only half-joking about getting myself fired.

To say I am somewhat stressed and fatigued at the moment would be a major understatement. The flatmate offered to give me a massage yesterday but I had to decline on the grounds that I'm currently so tense he'd only break his fingers.

Now, 29 wasn't a birthday I felt much like celebrating anyway (as I get older I find celebrating birthdays a bit "meh" really). But by two o'clock I just wanted to go home, hide under a duvet and let the world pass me by. Thankfully the plans which had been made fell through for various reasons so I was able to go home and do just that.

The birthday finally ended on a higher point as I got home to find that the new Bodies Without Organs (now just "BWO") album "Halcyon Days" had arrived, alongside a large delivery from www.watchbattery.co.uk of batteries for my Sonic Screwdriver (it does rather eat through them). I then enjoyed a serving of Steak Au Poivre with chips and some needlessly expensive wine whilst finally starting to unwind to a box set of Yes, Prime Minister on UK Gold before discovering a large number of people on Thingbox had sent me invites to their Private Galleries.

Didn't quite make up for the sheer hell I'd gone through up to that point, but it did alleviate it

I guess the moral of the story is two-fold. One: don't work on your birthday, even if you don't feel like marking it. Two: don't work in a job which means supporting what your clients consider to be mission-critical software.

My God I'm stupid at times.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Memory Lane

The last two weekends have definitely had a theme: that of dredging up the past.

Last weekend I had the dubious pleasure of going through mum's jewellery - a collection which my aunt has kept stored in her flat since mum's death. Some of it's tat, of course, and some of it's valuable so we had a bit of a sort through it to figure out what was what and stumbled across an old hair band which still had a wodge of mum's chestnut hair entwined round it.

It hadn't aged a bit and was a heart-stopping moment. Actual physical contact with the hair of someone who's been dead for thirteen years. We both looked rather oddly at it for a moment and cracked open some whisky before carrying on, neither of us much in the mood for talking any more.

This weekend I was at my father's and wandered up into the attic to sort some stuff out up there. I'm not a great hoarder of items and I don't tend to keep things for sentimental reasons, so most of my life fits rather well into my room in Highgate. There are, however, several boxes of books and suchlike that went into store when I first moved to London that really need a good sort through.

And what a treasure trove it was. I brought back with me copies of TV Zones I'd written for (whilst I was boffing the editor mainly), programmes from theatrical productions I'd seen (I do tend to keep those for some reason), a few books like Jan Pienkowski's Haunted House (an old favourite), my school tie, photos from my appearance as Lucio in Measure for Measure (God I was good - I miss acting) and so on.

I had a bit of a clearout too, and a couple of binbags of crap were generated - I always find that process quite therapeutic and life laundry-ish.

Pretty much all that remains there are folders containing my university coursenotes (I'll probably sling those to be honest) and two boxes of hardback books which I was under no account bringing back with me due to their sheer weight.

There's also a box of photographs I need to deal with at some point. I saw a few pictures of boating holidays in Norfolk with my mum and dad and found a lump coming to my throat at the sight of just a couple so I decided to leave those be for the time being.

It's very strange, though. As I trawled through stuff I found myself reminiscing about bygone days, waxing lyrical in my head about various people, wondering where they are now and so on.

It seems that as I'm getting older that I'm becoming rather more sentimental and emotional about my past and so on. I guess this is because there's now so much more of it, but it's a complete contrast to everything I've ever believed about myself and I'm not entirely sure I'm liking this development much.

Still, not much you can do about it, I guess. I just hope I don't end up living in it.

New Earth

So, the new series of Doctor Who debuted on Saturday and, rather than just picking up from where it left of, showed even more ambition from the start than the last.

And it was a stunning "proper" debut for the Tenth Doctor. The Christmas Invasion didn't feature much of him - although he certainly made a mark when he did arrive - but this time he was there from the off, by turns enthusiastic, caustic, slightly manic, rude, compassionate, fiercely moral and pragmatic. Freed from the baggage of Eccleston's Doctor (whom I still regard as excellent) this breath of fresh air felt more like an irresistible gale-force wind.

The story as a whole was fun. It delivered on pretty much every point you'd expect a script by Russell T. Davies to deliver. Some cracking dialogue, big concepts, scares (boy was my heart pumping at times), emotional wrenches and some top-notch humour (with not a fart in sight).

The only downside, though, was another Davies common factor: plot. He does tend to rely on the deus ex machina and the viewer's suspension of disbelief when it comes to the resolution, and this episode was no exception. Now, I have no problem with these generally - every Sci-Fi/Fantasy show in existence has been riddled with them - but something about Davies' 45 minute episodes makes them shout out at you.

I'm not saying for one minute that he can't do plot. Because he clearly can. The 60-minutes of the Christmas Invasion and the two part Bad Wolf / the Parting of the Ways made it perfectly clear he can, but his single-parters try to do so much in terms of thrills, chills, emotion, humour and so on that there tends to be no room left for these resolutions to appear anything other than rushed. Just a few lines of dialog earlier on ("I've got an idea" type stuff whilst racing around) would have evened it out enormously for me I think.

That said, the two twelve year-olds and nine year old I ended up watching it with were spellbound and delighted by the whole thing which I strongly suspect is the main thing really. And I could happily watch it again for the performances alone so what the hell.

A strong - if slightly imperfect - start. Saturday seems a very long way away right now.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

The Notorious F.A.G.

Peoples of the universe, your attention please.



Windypops! / Miss-Shapes / Riot / Unskinny Bop / Club Wotever / Underpass / Room 2 / Noise / Club Random / Marvellous.

DJ representatives from each of these clubs will battle it out on the decks from 8pm – 3am, but the overall winner will be The Albert Kennedy Trust as they will receive all of the money collected from door entry.

The Albert Kennedy Trust is a charity we're particularly fond of that
helps homeless gay, lesbian and transgender youths.

Also featuring:

£1.50 drinks! / A strip from Princess Knickers! / Face painting by Tanya Love! / Postcard Portraits from Sister Wendy! / FREE shots! / A balloon drop! / a zillion other surprises!

This is possibly going to be the most amazing night on planet Earth.

You might like to book the following Tuesday off.

Entry: £4 minimum donation
£3 with a valid NUS card
£2 if you’re Will Young
For more information see www.windypops.com

I should warn you however that a certain popular London club promoter - I mean the club is popular, not the promoter clearly (the mere mention of him makes my very flesh crawl) - has been a bit pissy and could even be described as throwing a hissy fit about the whole thing.

Which in my mind is as good a reason to turn up as any.

Do come! We've never turned down a friend!

I'm So Proud

I was pointed in the direction of this earlier...



Now, I'm not hugely aware of this site (honest) but the point is that the ad in the middle is this one here:



Which I did late last night whilst drinking vast quantities of whisky and wishing I knew: a) how ImageReady worked with regards to animations; and b) I had more time to do an animated GIF in.

I'm kind of thrilled that something I've done is reaching a "wider" audience.

And by "wider" I mean "slacker".

Maybe I should get a profile.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Jumping the Shark

I'm a little worried that Popjustice might be losing the plot.

For a good couple of years now it has been a lifeline for those of us who still like pop music in what have been pretty unforgiving times in the musical wilderness.

But I'm beginning to question Mister Popjustice's judgement. The relaunch of the website is cluttered and tries to do too much. The clubnight came in for some pretty predictable criticism given the choice of venue and his choices of artists to champion are increasingly becoming more miss than hit as far as I'm concerned.

The latest obsession is norwegian band Lorraine who on this week's Axis of Popjustice have been marked out as "amazing".

And I feel that this might be overstating the case somewhat. "I Feel It" is good, yes, but it's not amazing. It's not particularly poppy either - in fact it's quite a subdued and sullen record on the whole.

On the plus side the lead singer is rather hot, but I can't quite bring myself to buy the single purely on the strength of that. The snippets of the B-sides on iTunes have not compelled me to buy them either, and I'm only considering the Cicada remix on an iTunes snippet and the strength of the remixes they've done for Client.

So yes... possibly I may have to find my top pop tips elsewhere if this goes on.

Any suggestions gratefully appreciated.

Now, That Doesn't Happen Often...

I took part in the Grand National Sweepstake at work last week. Bunged in two quid, picked one out of the hat (well, cardboard box) and stuffed it in my wallet.

Thought no more about it. I don't, after all, ever win things.

Except on this occasion my horse came third. Normally I expect any of the ones I pick to have become Copydex by the end of Sunday, but Clan Royal actually made it through to the final three and has thus paid for the cleaner to come this week, a haircut (not that I had much, but what I did have was tickling my ears), and the new Doctor Who DVD Genesis of the Daleks.

So at least yesterday started well.

By the end of it I must confess to being faintly homicidal, but at least I started from a place of goodness and happiness. So I think it all balances out. The universe must have looked at the day I was going to have and decided to let me have some good Karma on account.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Get With the Programme!

I despair, I really do.

Wigwam's fantastically silly single Wigwam is flopping. Quite dramatically in fact.

And why is that? The track is brilliant, the video less-so (although I'm less bothered by it than some I know) and there's been a fair whack of publicity in newspapers and online and in shows at G-A-Y and so on. All's fair there.

No, I think the problem is that everyone who was interested downloaded it months ago off Edison's All-Electric Interweb and now wants new stuff.

Now, if I like a band or a song I will buy the CDs or official legal downloads when they come out, even though I may have had an illegal copy knocking around for a while. It's a luxury I can afford after all, and it helps assuage any residual guilt I may otherwise feel. I did it with Wigwam on Monday, and I shall do it again with the next one.

Most people, however, don't.

Given that leaks onto the internet are - despite what record companies try and do - unavoidable (we're far more technologically savvy than they are after all), it strikes me that lead times of a few months between promo and release are insane.

There needs to be a serious rethink done by the record companies really. They're catching up on the technology front, but they're still clinging to old ways of trying to pick the right moment to release something, testing the waters, being strategic and so on.

The only workable strategy is simply to get it out there. Fact is that people hear something - maybe a couple of times if it's a grower - and if they like it they want it. We're a culture dominated by instant gratification so just sitting there and going "wait for it, waaaiiiit for it" is just making people go "screw you, I want it now". And if we don't get it, we move on.

Record companies. If you want us to be excited by something then you shouldn't let us get bored waiting for it.

And EMI I'm looking specifically at you here. I'm already fed up waiting for the new Pet Shop Boys album. (They bloody finished it in November you sods.)

Alien Worlds

Last night I found myself standing willingly in an Aussie sports bar in Temple, watching the Arsenal - Juventus game.

Yeah... I think it was fair to say I was slightly outside my normal comfort zone. Standing there in a jam-packed pub surrounded by beer-swilling blokes discussing the ins and outs of their team's prior performance while I stood there drinking wine and going "what's going on, why was that bad?"

Frankly it's a wonder I didn't end up in a fight.

Thing is, whilst I am more than happy for various sportsmen to grace certain periodicals in very little clothing, I am not what one could consider remotely interested in watching sport. Playing them is different, mind - assuming it's a sport where I'm armed with something - but even ones I can play I don't watch on telly. And years of standing around developing hypothermia on a sports pitch in the middle of Sussex have kind of made sure that football doesn't fit into either category.

Besides, the words "tackle", "score" and "dribble" have completely different associations to gentleman of my particular persuasion.

Still, it was a special occasion because an ex-colleague was over from Canada and it was the only time people from my old team could agree to meet up. Thus I swallowed my instinctive distaste for such activities and environs and decided to give it a go.

Frankly even I could tell it wasn't a great game. There were a few near-misses, admittedly, but on the whole it just seemed frustrating for everyone watching. Still, there was a certain amount of elation at the result since - I gather - it meant Arsenal have gone through to the semi final. Even then I couldn't help but wish that Juventus had scored something, just to raise the stakes a bit.

But hey. I still kind of enjoyed it, if truth be told. After all, there were some bloody fit men on display.

And not just on the pitch either. Frankly I haven't been surrounded by that many good-looking men since last time I went to Heaven.

Oddest moment of the night, however, came when a friend of one of my colleagues asked me if I played rugby. Apparently he's one short for his team and he thought I might be quite good at it.

I had to explain that last time I was faced with by a load of muddy guys running at me and intent on getting a rugby ball off me, I yelped and handed it over.

He had to admit this reaction wouldn't be quite what he was looking for.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

I Should Be So Yucky

I currently feel extremely wooly and I can taste white wine.

I have a feeling it's soaked into my tongue and I can't get rid of it.

Ugh.

So anyway, yesterday was the flat-mate's birthday. He's just turned thirty, bless him. He's also - like me - ill-inclined to do anything extravagant to mark it so we opted to just head to the pub at the end of our road and I'd buy him a quiet meal.

So we did.

Now, I'm still surprised by the Settle Inn. It has, to be fair, a name with the sort of pun even I'd be shy of using, and it's propensity for showing Sky Sports would normally set it on my "avoid like the very plague" list. But that said it's light and airy, stylishly appointed, not too pricey, the staff are friendly, the punters seem violence-free, and the food is - amazingly enough - rather good Thai.

So we decamped to there, received some slightly surly service on the food front (the chef was a bit "can't do that" and seemed to be more interested in providing service with a sneer), ate some excellent food nonetheless and then suddenly a pub quiz whirled into existence around us.

Fair enough, we thought. Let's have a bash.

And it was a fairly raucous quiz at that, and one which a table of lesbians did rather try and spoil by not taking part and then shouting out the answers. Still, I'm pleased to report that our team came second. And I won a t-shirt for my trouble. So a good night was ultimately had. (And given the amount of cackling Chris was doing I think even he enjoyed himself.)

Trouble is it was quite a lengthy quiz. We finally staggered out at 12:00, having kept ourselves extremely well lubricated during our five hours there.

Thank God that only ten minutes later I was home and wrapped in a duvet. This, I feel, is a considerable advantage over pubs in the West End.

Monday, April 03, 2006

What Time Do You Call This?

I'm sure I've commented before about the terrifying accuracy of my body clock, and how I tend to be restored to something akin to consciousness approximately two minutes before my alarm clock is due to propel me out of bed.

This is a useful trick because the screech that the thing gives out can give you a most unpleasantly jarring start to the day and thus, I feel, should be avoided at all costs. (Okay so I could get a new alarm clock, but this one matches the bedspread.)

What's more interesting though is how last week my body clock seemed to automatically reset along with the UK's change to daylight saving time. Despite the clocks going forward I still woke up at 6:28 on Monday morning feeling bright and breezy even though you'd have thought - in the normal course of things - that I would horribly oversleep.

This, I felt, was pretty amazing.

What took me by surprise this morning, however, was the fact that America's switch to DST over the weekend seems to have affected it as well. Today I woke up another hour early, staring in mild disbelief at a clock proudly announcing that it was half five.

I wasn't impressed. Clearly working for a Boston-based company is affecting me in strange and disturbing ways.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

This is the Chorus

This is the chorus. This is the chorus.
It goes round and around And gets into your brain.
This is the chorus. A fabulous chorus.
And thirty seconds from now you're gonna hear it again.
I have now tracked down a copy of Morris Minor and the Majors' This is the Chorus which I have a certain interest in given my love of the output of Messers Stock, Aitken and Waterman. It is, as you may have guessed from the snippet of lyric above, a piss-take.

I quite like it personally. But there's a part of me that thinks as far as parodies go it isn't entirely succesful. It does rather over-rely on mimicking (or almost lifting) bits of specific songs to ram the point home, which would be forgivable once but only one of them actually works (the last one - which is also the second use of "lucky lucky lucky" in the song).

The thing that really makes it less succesful as a parody though is that it just doesn't sound right. In some respects it actually makes S/A/W's output seem more polished and stylish. If you were to write a list of all the elements that make up a PWL record of the late 80's / Early 90's you'd probably get something like this:

  • Handclaps
  • Crisp Snare
  • Descending Tom-Toms
  • Mechanical bassline
  • Bouncy Synthy Stabs
  • Synth Brass Section
  • Bit of funk guitar
And to be fair you wouldn't be far wrong. And all of that's in the arrangement of "This is the Chorus" but yet somehow it doesn't sound at all like a S/A/W production, which I think probably shows how much better the Hit Factory was at this sort of thing than people gave them credit for.

It's not just whoever put that track together though. A lot of pop music at the time tried to sound like PWL. Ian Levine was a prime wannabe - and even using the same synths (the Yamaha DX7 was so easily available at that time) he somehow manages to miss the mark completely. His stuff always sounds so cheap by comparison.

Mind you, it doesn't help that Levine just isn't as good a songwriter as Mike Stock either. At least whoever wrote "This is the Chorus" was able to come up with something reasonably accurate song-wise.

So yes, it's not a bad little stab at a S/A/W-style song (nor indeed at S/A/W themselves) but something about it seems a little lacking in sharpness and accuracy. Compared to, say, Spitting Image's The Chicken Song - which not only slaughters Black Lace but sounds completely like them at the same time - it's only moderately succesful.

I can't help but think that often succesful parody really requires a deep understanding of what you're parodying (and perhaps sometimes even a little affection for it). Just thinking "oh, all that is is so-and-so" is never really enough.

Still the song does score by being yet another record in my collection (the third) to sing about keychanges whilst actually doing them.

I'm a sucker for that sort of thing.

This is the keychange. This is the keychange.
It's a standard device to stop us sounding mundane.
This is the keychange. A fabulous keychange.
But we've done it the once, so we won't do it again.

Very Strange

I think I'm immune to the effects of Pro-Plus.

I popped about a dozen of the things last night in a desperate attempt to stay awake long enough to actually make it out clubbing last night.

I was still yawning my head off at 10:30 and slept soundly all night.

Clearly it's not the coffee that peps me up of a morning. It's the sugar.

Dextrose tablets in future I think.