Surrounded by Cilla

Cilla Black

Just thanks to flicking through catch up on Virgin last night I spotted that BBC Four had a whole night of awesome old light entertainment shows on last night surrounding the excellent Queens of British Pop series. The light entertainment variety show is something that doesn’t really exist anymore, or at least didn’t until the strangely awful Tonight’s The Night appeared last week.

Back in the 60s though it was all the rage, and the popular thing seemed to be to turn chart topping singers into TV personalities. ‘Cilla’ was one of those shows and ran impressively from 1968 – 76. In the episode shown last night, you’ll hear Cilla singing the McCartney written theme ‘Step Inside Love’, as well as performing with a bunch of dancing backing singers and duetting with Georgie Fame. Dusty sings a couple of solo tracks before Cilla joins her for a comedy duet and manages to crush her beehive into a hat. Dusty herself had a shorter 30 minute programme on the BBC in 1966. Watch it here and marvel at just how Jewish a young Tom Jones looks. I’m not sure there’s a better voice in the world out there.

Two other shows were broadcast which I’ve not yet watched. The Sandie Shaw Supplement features ‘Sandie Shaw performs music on the theme of transport and travel. She is filmed riding a horse on a Welsh beach, in a racing car, on a Marylebone station platform and in the studio, singing Route 66, Do you Know the Way to San Jose, Homeward Bound, By the Time I Get to Phoenix, Girl Don’t Come, Got to Go, Planes and Boats and Planes, Day Tripper and Ticket to Ride.’ Skip forward then to 1979 for the strange concept of the Kate Bush Christmas Special. Recorded at Pebble Mill, Kate performs songs from her first two albums including a special guest starring from Peter Gabriel.

Watch them all here.

Little Boots 1st Video

Here’s the just released video for ‘New In Town’.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_XaDSbGLXRE[/youtube]

It’s not really what I was expecting and I’m not sure it really works. Why are there homeless people dancing? Why’s she not in a lot of the shots etc? I did see her at the Camden Crawl yesterday though and it made me think she is ace again. It’s easy, because of the world in which ‘we’ live, to suddenly turn on her, but to most people she’s a brand new proposition and that needs to be remembered by a lot of media people banging on about her (myself included).

I do however how no explanation for why this is the 1st single, no matter how much it’s grown on me, and not the much more awesome ‘Mathematics’.

Pixielicious

pixie lott

Earlier today I went to see gorgeous new popstar Pixie Lott play four songs in a studio in North West London to a bunch of journalists. Events like this are always (I assume!) intimidating to the popstar because industry people NEVER SHUT UP at gigs, particularly when listening to something they don’t know. The only time I’ve seen that happen was when a vaguely journo heavy crowd watched the Scissor Sisters debut ‘I Don’t Feel Like Dancing’ at Popstarz. Normally the popstar is on a brightly lit stage and the industry peeps stand at the back mumbling. This time we were all sat in a bright daylight lit room, perfect silence watching, even whooping Pixie on. Intense, intense, intense and probably the reason her eyes were fixed firmly above us all.

While her old artwork was girly and young, Pixie’s suddenly been transformed into a gorgeous, long legged, sleek haired beauty. Somehow the video for debut single ‘Mama Do’ doesn’t really do her justice, although the song is a brilliant updating of a song you might expect the girls in jail in Chicago to sing. The highlight though of today’s show was soulful ballad ‘Cry Me Out’. Live she just nailed it, packed full of emotion, both her and the audience were nearly in tears at the end. Jennifer Hudson eat your heart out.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3GRV5_yXlHw[/youtube]

(I find myself troubled writing about someone born in 1991.)

Important Record Label Meeting Minutes

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Xena: I’ve totted up the accounts and the last Feeling album made us … £12.

Lex: WHAT? But it was amazing.

X: I know, but some fool decided to take the advice of a radio DJ and release ‘Without You’ as the 2nd single. Everything went wrong from there.

L: I suppose Dan’s Hitler moustache didn’t help either. What do we do?

X: Well, I’ve had an important pop scientist working in the lab. He’s created two decent looking chaps. The girls will like them, and Mika’s given them some special glitzy classes. We’ve given them The Feeling imprint and but swapped 5% of it to Same Difference’s. It’s even made one of them look a bit like the smiley boy.

L: Sounds good Xena. Are they ready to face the public?

X: Well we’ve got this song. It’s called ’15 Minutes’ and it’s all about those sneaky 15 mins of fame. The journalists are going to love the hilarity of it all. I’ll be honest, the chorus isn’t great, but the verse is so good no one will notice. I call them The Yeah You’s.

L: A plan my dear. Let’s give them a shiny video that TV will love. It’ll distract from the chorus.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wupJ7MmIr9k[/youtube]

Song: 2/5
Video : 4/5

(TEN THOUSAND POINTS FOR USE OF TRACY ANN OBERMAN)

Tiga says ‘Ciao!’

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“I had a great idea for the artwork,” smiles Tiga saucily, “It was going to be like a clock – the minute hand was the shaft of the penis and the balls made up the hour hand. Sadly it got left on the cutting room floor.’ It certainly might have made stocking the CD in HMV a bit difficult.

Initially turning our heads back in 2001 with a gorgeously dark cover of Corey Hart’s Sunglasses At Night, Tiga’s 2nd album ‘Ciao’ sees him taking a deliberately more serious approach. While his debut ‘Sexor’ was quite a heavy club record, ‘Ciao’s aim is to be a “proper album you can listen to anywhere, without skipping any tracks.” Produced mainly by Soulwax over in Belgium, a country Tiga describes as ‘steak, fries and a huge amount of sauce’, it’s an electronic album peppered with hits you can still dance to in a club (‘Mind Dimension’), rave out to while driving (the seriously epic ‘Love Don’t Dance Here Anymore’) or simply waggle your arse to while you’re doing the hoovering (‘Sex O’Clock’ – 6.09 apparently). Mission accomplished.

Having worked with Jake Shears previously on their silly cover of Nelly’s ‘Hot in Herre’ and Tiga’s last shot at chart success ‘You Gonna Want Me’, the glittery one was happy to be back in session on the heavy ‘Gentle Giant.’ “I love being in a studio with Jake because he’s got so much energy that he’ll go crazy and try something in 20 different ways just to see how it sounds. I’ve known him for years and it’s made me very proud to see how well he’s done.” Also involved on the track was LCD’s James Murphy – ‘the greatest producer in the world’. “I found him quite intimidating to work with,” Tiga confides. ‘He’s just so cool, with the whole punk and disco thing going on! Not of cool as me of course, but he was great fun. He makes you really argue for your point if you want to do a bassline a certain way. It made me stop being so lazy.”

The first single from the album is the deliciously silly ‘Shoes’. Sounding musically like something Peaches might trot out, with a stomach flipping bass and chatty vocals, Tiga demands for you to ‘take off your shoes’. Could we have found this diminutive Canadian’s secret fetish? “Oh no! I love shoes, but not like that,” he squeals. “I like gloves more! You feel strong when you wear gloves, particularly leather ones. I’m not a very big man, but gloves make me feel big and strapping, like I can break things!” Dressed quite plainly save for the biggest, brightest red trainers we’ve ever seen, Tiga knowingly tells us, “Shoes are an indication of what type of man you are though. I can tell almost everything from a man’s shoes.”

Sexuality is always something Tiga’s played with but despite not being gay, the scene has had a big influence on his music. “Montreal (his hometown) is a very gay city. When I started DJing it was in gay clubs, and most of my friends were gay. They had the best names. The first club was called ‘K-O-X’ and there was a regular warehouse party called ‘Sterile Cowboys’. It didn’t mean much to me at the time…” There was nothing though that could prepare him for the time in Denmark when a man bit his left ass cheek and ‘held on like a dog’. “It wasn’t the least bit a turn on,’ Tiga asserts. “I was wearing jeans but he actually broke the skin so I was bleeding. Yet he claimed he was a fan!’.

Written originally for Attitude Magazine’s 15th Birthday Issue

The Worst Album of All Time

eoghan

In a list of things the world needs, an Eoghan Quigg album full of covers is not one of them. Despite making it all the way to the final of X Factor thanks to the little girl and grannies brigade, a win for Eoghan would have been another nail in the pop coffin of doom that already contains the dusty remains of David Sneddon, Steve Brookstein and Leon Jackson. If Leon, an X Factor winner, has just been dropped from his record label, along with runners up Same Difference, are we really supposed to believe Eoghan’s debut offer us any more than a quick buck making exercise for a record label? Look him up 10 months down the line and we’re pretty sure you’ll find him back working hard at school with a Saturday job at Argos. A fine way to mess with a 16 year old’s head.

Of course, we were never going to expect a masterpiece from Eoghan and you probably think we’d slag it off whatever he released. The thing is though, as Popjustice quite rightly states, even the most obsessive, deluded fan, will have some difficulty sticking up for this album. It sounds so cheap, so unlovingly put together that we are aghast that someone managed to A&R and release this without actually wanting to kill themselves

The main problem with Eoghan on the show (save the inexplicable hair, the face, the Diana love, the obsession from Louis etc) was the way his vocals were accompanied by so many backing singers that his voice frequently got lost, and this problem is repeated on the album most notably on High School Musical’s ‘We’re All In This Together’. Taking the songs Eoghan covered on TV as a starting point you can expect to hear his strange choice of Abba’s ‘Does Your Mother Know’, Michael Jackson’s ‘Ben’ (surely the 2nd worst Jacko song after Ebony & Ivory?) and a wilting, joyless version of Take That masterpiece ‘Never Forget’. Add to the mix a little known Jonas Brothers song which Eoghan has made sound so much like Westlife, Louis’ ears will be perking up with a marathon speed, and the addition of a smattering of Robbie, McFly and Buble and you’ll have a fair idea of the sound. It was speculated that Eoghan really found his place on the show when covering his ‘favourite band’ Busted with ‘Year 3000’. Indeed this is really the only track on the album where Eoghan sounds like he’s vaguely interested and giving it a smidge, and we really do mean a smidge of personality, so he must have been delighted for Busted craftsman James Bourne to offer up original song ‘28,000 Friends’ for the album. Fittingly though, an ode to online friends, it’s a cast off that wouldn’t even have made a Son of Dork B-side.

It’s safe to say 2009 is not Eoghan’s year. There was a time when the runners up album would be as exciting as the winner’s. While some might think Rhydian’s album did exactly that last year (I’ve not heard it so I have no idea), let’s all take a moment to remember the very first runner up – Gareth Gates – and probably one of the best sugary pop songs of the decade.

Some of this was originally written for Orange Music

Jade Makes A Video!

We’ve just over a month to go until Eurovision 2009, and our very own entry – Jade Ewan – has just unleashed the video for ‘It’s My Time’ and it’s made me warm to it much, much more. Forgetting the jaw-droppingly bad lyrics, Jade’s managed to add a bit of personality and zest to the track, building it up and up before letting go in an almighty fashion on the last chorus. Plus look who pops up a minute in.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QTos6sAXJ_Q[/youtube]

(The Digital Dog remix is worth a poppers o’clock giggle.)

Review: The New Yorkers, Lilian Bayliss Theatre, Sadlers Wells

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Musicals come and go. The lucky ones get turned into films and are immortalised. Everyone’s heard of Oklahoma!, Anything Goes and Guys and Dolls. But what about Allegro, Nymph Errant or Greenwillow? No, us neither.

Since 1989 Ian Marshall Fisher has been a one-man musical preservation industry, every year dredging up unfairly forgotten shows by the great writers of the early 20th century and labelling them the Lost Musicals. His latest project at Sadler’s Wells (Sundays until April 26) is Cole Porter and Herbert Fields’ 1930 society satire The New Yorkers. What hits you first is the minimalist approach. Smartly decked out in evening dress, the company files onto a brightly-lit stage – empty apart from a row of chairs. Each clutches a black folder containing the script. There are no props and only piano accompaniment. It’s almost like watching an early BBC radio drama recording. But the performances themselves are boisterous, especially from the remarkable Michael Roberts in a role originally taken by Jimmy Durante.

There’s a negligible plot: wealthy young New York socialite falls for shady nightclub owner and ends up organising a jailbreak when he is busted. This being the Prohibition, there are plenty of jokes about alcohol and the lengths people will go to for it, including an entire song, ‘Say It With Gin’. The links between the revue-style numbers and story are sometimes tenuous, but sometimes that helps: after one particularly rowdy comedy routine, Corrie Mac steps forward and sings ‘Love for Sale’, Porter’s great, sad song about a prostitute. The effect is devastating.

What’s most surprising though is how funny the show still is. Yes, some of the contemporary references are missed, but the acidic swipes at the uber-rich, the justice system, and above all lovely ‘liquor’, still have the power to raise a laugh. If something as classy as The New Yorkers can be lost, what other musical marvels might still await rediscovery?

The New Yorkers plays each Sunday at 4pm until April 26. Full details here. If you only see one show this month, this should be it.