dirty martini

old music for new people

tv heaven November 9, 2008

zammojackie

tv and music were once an unholy alliance. you didn’t get leona lewis, you got bonnie langford. actors who thought they could sing and songs used in adverts and tv themes populated the charts.

old skool tv tracks

babylon zoo – spaceman

once used in a levi’s ad, forever lodged in a nation’s consciousness. you’d forgotten it? well in 1995, people had forgotten about the jeans. each new ad was notable for the soundtrack and model, with jeans rapidly disappearing off the radar until flat eric and destiny’s child revived them complete with sequins and glitter a few years later.

five star – stay out of my life

a rework of this five star track moonlighted as the theme tune to citv game show ‘how dare you’, variously presented by playschool’s floella benjamin and bucks fizz alumni cheryl baker. it’s a hazy memory but i do remember a lot of gunge being thrown around.

brown sauce – i wanna be a winner

cheggers and soon-to-be but now ex-wife maggie philbin wrongly assumed that their presenting roles on saturday morning tv show the multicoloured swap shop implied any kind of musical talent. so, those of you who thought his career low point was baring his arse on ‘naked jungle’ were wrong. thank god for ‘cheggers plays pop’. i loved that, always wanted the yellows to win and they never did.

marlena shaw – california soul

kfc as soul food? genius. it’s not quite momma cherri’s but as close as a lot of people are going to get. soul food, like mexican and swiss cuisine, is way underrepresented in the UK.

dennis waterman – i could be so good for you

forget little dennis waterman in the little britain sketch, funny though it is. in the 80s, in ‘minder’, dennis was cool. this fell apart roughly around the same time as we found out that minger laura from eastenders was his daughter. you remember, the one who was married to ian beale, and in her 40s, played by someone in their 20s. yep, that minging.

dexy’s midnight runners – because of you

became the theme tune to popular 80s sitcom ‘brush strokes’ featuring the actor who has appeared in mr muscle adverts for the last ten years or so, as jacko. elmo putney and his pink wine bar…what happened to wine bars? in my not very legal drinking years the last few were dying out. this, and the one in ‘only fools and horses’ that del fell over in, are places I would have liked to frequent…for the kitsch value, naturally…

grange hill – just say no

yes, just a few years later on ‘the word’ the cast collided with the early 90s rave scene and undid all that good work…one of my favourite things about watching old grange hill episodes, apart from jackie and zammo, is the accents. no one speaks like that now! i’m not even sure they did then. they’re supposed to be cockneys!

v capri – haunting me

thought angry anderson was bad? this song featured in an episode, i think, where scott and charlene had split, but he raced to a bus station (always a bus station) to stop her moving to brisbane. cue lots of flashbacks of them playing on swings, slides, roundabouts..in other words the cheesiest bit of tv you’re ever likely to see. look it up on youtube.

cathy dennis – irresistable

used in a 1992 sky campaign. pretty sure the only reason it’s embedded in my memory is the fact that i – literally – watched cable for 20 hours a day back then. studs and full house on sky one, on the air with clive pearse on super channel, most wanted with ray cokes…good times.

joey scarbury – believe it or not

possibly the most 80s theme tune ever, from ‘the greatest american hero’. inspired later efforts for ‘cheers’, ‘the golden girls’ and ‘my two dads’.

robin beck – first time

everyone in coke ads was cool. even if they were in the middle of falling over, their first kiss, being hit by a tidal wave, whatever, because they were a) in slow motion and b) had a coke in their hand, the object of their desire still fancied them and they were unflappable. no wonder 80s kids are all in therapy now…

savage garden – truly madly deeply

ah yes, melted chocolate voiced savage garden, were a perfect fit with wet blanket dawson and the other improbably sensitive and articulate river kids. can’t remember if the song actually featured in the series or was just a channel 4 hookup.

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burn baby burn November 1, 2008

i had hope that the shock exit of disco week would be be overstyled, overindulged irish brat eoghan. can’t see him doing too well on mariah carey week, can you? yes, it would even be worth cringing through another week of shameless opportunist daniel trying to parlay his loss into a career. just. as long as we can finally get shot of him the week after.

my retrospective wishlist for disco week. note, these are based on what would actually do the contestants justice, not the limited x factor playlist based on the paranoid assumption that every brit is too stupid to vote on the basis of a good performance. and only recognises a performance as such if the song in questions is a wedding reception or car advert staple and they already know all the words.

oh, and they’re actual disco numbers. not just songs from the mid-late 70s which some idiots equate with disco. of course the usual american idol/pop isdol/popstars faves were wheeled out…

download disco

jls – should have sung ‘heartache no9’ by delegation

but, good song choice for them tonight and nowhere near as predictable as i was fearing (more than a woman, relight my fire). i really want them to win – i think in terms of the credibility of the show and its future, they are the most likely to do well. leona ensured its relevance a few years back but its time for another real winner.

alex – should have sung ‘you know how to love me’ by phyllis hyman

what is it about that ‘on the radio’ song? it’s ok but it’s a nothing song. no opportunity show off her vocals, a complete waste.

rachel – should have sung ‘got to be real’ by cheryl lynn

you can’t help but like rachel. she’s coping admirably with her mentor, considering that given her background, a spoilt, childish and desperate woman like dannii must seem twice as irritating. tonight’s song choice was as ridiculous as ever. sack your mentor, rachel!

ruth should have sung ‘more more more’ by andrea true connection

should have been in her element next week as spain loves it some disco. still. another disco week another donna summer track. simon really needs to put some cash behind those song rights so we don’t have to endure the same tired old numbers next year. it’s like a pub jukebox that never gets refreshed.

laura should have sung ‘street life’ by crusaders

she sang jocelyn brown in the auditions, i thought they used to criticise contestants for that…anyway it was good but i think her days are numbered now that she has been revealed to cavorting with an itv insider.

diana should have sung ‘heart of glass’ by blondie

come on, blondie is only borderline disco, you could have chosen one on the fucking line. ‘call me’ is a rock track. one week, diana will actually sing something from the required theme.

austin should have sung ‘rock with you’ by michael jackson

he probably was always too much of a gypo to win. i don’t know what it is about him. at first he just looked really dirty and unhealthy, and now he’s channelling pale and gaunt, but cleaner looking, 80s popstars.

daniel should have sung ‘instant replay’ by dan hartman

perhaps that should read ‘daniel should be able to sing if he’s been put in final 12 of the x factor, instead of wasting a spot that could have been given to someone with talent’. there.

eoghan should have sung – in tune

are the judges deaf? it’s like they were preprogrammed to ignore how resoundingly crap he would inevitably be. he’s been shit every week but this week was atrocious. get him out, now, i refuse to choose a song for him.

 

american redneck idol May 23, 2008

i can barely be bothered to watch the american idol final on itv2 tonight now that i know snoozefest david cook has won.  ooh lets kills every assigned song with exactly the same grunge rock arrangement. how clever.

grandparent favourite david archuleta was obviously not a hugely better prospect but at least he wasn’t a throwback to the early 90s unless you think the fact that he was born in 1990 qualifies that comparison. neither of them are a leona, hell, they’re not even a jordin sparks. i’m even going to go out on a limb here and say i preferred carrie unde-robot-wood and taylor ‘father ted’ hicks.

god i just didn’t really care that much about any of the contestants after chikezie went. he peaked too early with ‘i believe to my soul’. i liked syesha but she clearly wasn’t as good as similar artists from previous years, like vonzell a few years back.

do kids still listen to complaint rock? seriously? i didn’t believe it in the 90s and i don’t believe it now. scenes of kids jumping up and down on their bed playing air guitar are always the most unrealistic elements of any movie or tv show for me, and I didn’t know anyone who did that.

at least we had a few who were enjoyably shit keeping up the sanjaya malakar/that stupid marine/jasmine trias tradition. that er, jason er…dreads bloke, clinched the cringe of the ‘season’ with his double bob marley massacre. jason castro, just looked it up. kristy lee cook was unenjoyably shit. brooke white looked like a little old alien, like gail from corrie…

doubtless there will be another ‘season’ so here are some of the better performances from the last 6 years…

ruben studdard – a whole new world

latoya london – somewhere

elliot yamin – if you really love me

tamyra gray – a house is not a home

chikezie eze – i believe to my soul

jennifer hudson – weekend in new england

mario vasquez – do i do

lakisha jones – and i am telling you

anwar robinson – what’s going on

mandisa – i don’t hurt anymore

 

you can’t escape christmas December 17, 2007

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 i always give in to christmas songs for the last week or so…

download here

band aid – do they know its christmas

the original is still the best even if supremely irritating bono is in it spreading his smugness instead of charity spirit. bananarama look pissed off as usual, in the video. a riot of mullets, 80s plaid and britishness. although i saw the 1989 version today and thought, what on earth happened to matt goss? he actually could sing.

donny hathaway – this christmas

i love donny hathaway’s voice. i love this song for being instantly recognisable yet slightly under the radar – if it hadn’t been covered by ashanti, usher, chris brown, destiny’s child, joe, slaguilera and countless others.

elton john – step into christmas

part of the all-conquering 70s christmas lineup that gets rolled out every year. reminds me of my first ever saturday job circa 1991.

mariah carey – all i want for christmas

has become a christmas classic and possibly the last great christmas song that was recorded. roxanne cooper from pop idol 3 did a decent cover version. mariah is trying to be too cute in her santa outfit though.

luther vandross – please come home for christmas

soulful remake of the eagles original, as covered by bon jovi.

nkotb – i’ll be missing you come christmas

i loved this. i was 14 and in love with jordan knight and thought i would be forever. i can barely remember the rest of the nkotb christmas album apart from a woeful cover of little drummer boy by danny ‘horseface’ wood.

paul mccartney – wonderful christmastime

very hazy memories of this from my childhood. can’t believe i’m featuring a fab macca thumbs aloft track on my blog. what next – the frog chrous?

slade – merry christmas everybody

obvious, but you can’t leave it off the playlist.

stevie wonder – what christmas means to me

overlooked classic.

tlc – sleigh ride

fun track from their ‘oooh on the tlc tip’ era. not a dayglo condom in sight though.

wham – last christmas

possibly the best christmas song ever. love watching the video and working out whether it was obvious that george was gay. some scary fair isle sweaters are present but everyone dressed like that in 1984.

wizzard – i wish it could be christmas everyday

i actually prefer this to slade. i know a lot of people think that this is by slade. most of the 70s glam rock bands do look and sound exactly the same…

 

90s r&b girl bands: no hit wonders November 17, 2007

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how many girl groups did en vogue inspire?

don’t even go there with that spice girls theory. watching them on tv tonight was slightly embarrassing. the spice girls emerged before reality tv laid the music industry bare. three of them would have been lucky to make it into girls aloud and the thought of any of them competing against leona lewis is cringeworthy.

however you feel about reality music tv, it does give you the opportunity to create careers for genuine talent. its just that some people distribute their vote using the same principles as they might donate their spare change to charity and vote for losers like michelle mcmanus and taylor hicks.

there should be a reality show for anonymous ex boy and girl band members…simon!

check the a list

b list

and c list

download here

1 of the girls – do da what

this cleveland group helped then-fledgling producer gerald levert jump on the new jill swing bandwagon driven by swv and jade – and then he fell off.

bitches with problems – two minute brother

not exactly the classiest group on this list, these girls tried to outdo the boys and its not much of a surprise that their two albums sunk. their short lived time in the spotlight did launch one career however – this track’s video was the first from uber director hype williams.

cleopatra – come and get me

brummie poppets who became very famous, very quickly and disappeared in a puff of smoke, possibly quite literally, as disney was involved. middle sister and lead singer cleopatra is set to release a solo project imminently

eve – groove of love

that’s eve as in ebony vibe everlasting not as in eve the slightly butch rapper. ebony vibe everlasting…good god…sometimes the 90s were just a bit too worthy.

ghost town djs – my boo

miami bass tune which was so unlike anything else at the time. the ghost town dj’s were actually the producers – who were the girls?

good 2 go – never satisfied

new jill swing group from LA who were – gasp – white. perhaps they would have fared better fifteen years on as back in 1992, no one quite got them.

the gyrlz – if it’s games you’re playing

the gyrlz were terri, monica and tara. later the group became a duo after tara left, and has minor success throughout the 90s. the gyrlz debut and only cd is ultra rare and worth £ on ebay if you can track it down.

jazzyfatnastees – the lie

you can hardly call this duo a girl band in the traditional sense, rather, they’re here to demonstrate a different approach. more focus on lyrics than style and club bangers.

phajja – so long

late 90s girl band, no distinguishing features. still, the internet was live and kicking and they did in fact release two albums so the lack of info and availability of their music is a shame…

pure soul – wait for you

many people remember music channel mainstay ‘we must be in love’…and that’s it.

shades – serenade

classier girl group who rose from the ashes of new jill swing.

terri and monica – intentions

the sequel to ‘the gyrlz’ minus one member. i remember their music being critically acclaimed but success was still not forthcoming.

 

reality the sequel: uk vs the us August 31, 2007

stars.jpg 

well, in my original post i didn’t have room to feature so many of the other acts we have booed, loved and voted for across seven years of reality music shows.

in the uk, we have seen some quality acts get pushed aside by the likes of michelle mcmanus, chico, G4 and the cheeky girls. hopefully some of the lesser known acts here will take the experience and parlay it into something better than the occasional stint at butlins.

download here

4tune – babygirl

well, this lot had two shots at the x factor and bombed both times. they sound surprisingly good on this track though and have recorded an answer song to don’t cha by the pussycat dolls. they can’t possibly return a third time though – they need to give that one up.

roxanne cooper – all i want for christmas

everyone was shocked when roxanne was eliminated from pop idol, having been a favourite and easily the best singer that year. surprisingly, despite rumours of record deals and coronation street guest spots, nothing has materialised and to date this mariah carey cover is her only release that i know of.

zoe birkett – treat me like a lady

another likeable curly headed girl, zoe was in the unenviable position of vying with will young, gareth gates and er, housewives favourite darius danesh on the first pop idol in 2001. after being dropped from her record label, she married and divorced fellow pop idol contestant mark rhodes and is now dating bb6 winner anthony hutton. and she’s only just 22.

girls aloud – the show

love them or hate them, its impossible to ignore the fact that the girls are the biggest success story of uk reality shows. watching them triumph over one true voice and the pathetically out of touch pete waterman was a great moment. i still really want to slap the ginger one though. imagine how different javine’s life could be if she had made the band…

rowetta – step on by the happy mondays

ok i’m cheating here but i’ve heard rowetta’s single and its not great. what people are far more interested in is her time as backing singer for the happy mondays back in the late 80s and early 90s. how cool is that? i hate indie music but i love the ravey madchester stuff like this track and how can you not love bez?

jordin sparks – tattoo

how can someone so young be so confident and level headed? especially in the face of ridiculous accusations that she is dangerously overweight at a size 16. what? she’s not thin…but fat? she’s six feet tall for god’s sake! of course she needs to wear a 16. i hope she stays as she is, and stick two fingers up at US weight nazis…

kelly clarkson – the trouble with love is

…unlike the first idol winner, who seemed to crash diet the minute she accepted her prize. i can’t say i’m too fond of her work generally and there’s something really annoying about her. she does this open mouth, eyes wide open, ‘i’m so not listening to you, whatever’ thing.

vonzell solomon – dance tonight

baby v got the soul vote in a season of dull country and rock acts. she doesn’t have the most amazing voice but has that likeability thing going on. not sure we’ll hear from her again though.

paris bennett – i’m so hot

chose the wrong songs week after week and was probably just too young for the whole thing. her album seems to be doing ok and is fairly decent if not groundbreaking.

anwar robinson – maybe after all

lovely bob marley-alike anwar is yet to release a major label album. just too nice for words and the lack of competitive spirit maybe saw him eliminated before his time. of course i got accused of fancying him for calling him ‘nice’. um no, that would have been travis tucker that year… : )

 

reality: the UK vs the US August 23, 2007

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reality tv has come a long way since hearsay and kelly clarkson. so, these are some of the best acts to emerge from popstars, pop idol, the x factor and american idol. you can also check out more acts to emerge from these shows.

download here

shayne ward -if that’s ok with you

best live performance – a million love songs (take that)

back in 2005, it wasn’t just hysterical 14 year olds voting for shayne, the entire female uk population, my mum and sharon osbourne included, had ward fever. he beat out more talented acts to be crowned winner of the x factor, but I have to say he’s grown on me. well, he is cute. started his career with drippy ballads but this soon to be released song shows he’s moving in a more interesting direction now, capitalising on the diverse vocal styles he displayed during the live shows.

anton gordon – hot romance

best live performance – cherish (kool and the gang)

where is anton? only this one track in five years? rumour has it he was turned away from this year’s x factor auditions. itv claim he just didn’t make the grade but the truth is they were embarrassed that they let pete waterman massacre his career after popstars: the rivals. one true voice was a shambles. poor old anton put in amazing performances week in week out only to be marginalised within a cheesy boyband singing bee gees covers. i could weep…and on the night he sang cherish i nearly did.

leona lewis – paradise

best live performance – i have nothing (whitney houston)

tough to pick one but this was the night i knew she’d win. leona blew us away last year in the x factor, and it was hard not to get overexcited. was she better than the girls of american idol? in some cases yes, in others, just different. american idol does belters a la mandisa and lakisha but leona is a more diverse vocalist. i can’t think of a comparative idol contestant but roxanne of pop idol in the uk comes close, albeit with much less range.

liberty x – jumpin’

best live performance….

er, i can’t remember any of their individual performances on popstars. but liberty x had some decent songs, firstly by riding the uk garage wave and then with neptunes inspired efforts like this. ok so in order to stay in the limelight they also covered a hell of a lot of big 80s soul songs like got to have your love, night to remember, ain’t nobody…can’t hurt right?

lemar – dance with you

best live peformance – let’s stay together (al green)

so far the most successful of the uk’s reality stars, along with girls aloud. lemar didn’t even win the dull and worthy fame academy but he’s the only contestant most people can remember from all three series. david sneddon anyone? thought not. in some ways, lemar has found it easier to disassociate himself than he might have done from pop idol or the x factor. both of which he could have won, no contest.

javine – surrender

best live performance – i’m every woman (chaka khan)

javine shrugged off initial public rejection to make a reasonably successful debut but slid into eurovision. as if any further depths could be plunged, whilst in daddy cool she made off with married co-star, harvey so solid. his wife, alesha dixon of girl band misteeq, has rightly used every opportunity to wreak public vengeance. then gobshite jamelia called her a slut on tv. pot. kettle. file this comeback under ‘unlikely’.

ruben studdard – sorry 2004

best live performance – a whole new world (peabo bryson)

how could anyone not love the velvet teddy bear? the confusion on ruben’s face as he took reviews from the judges on his perfomance each week was priceless. it was all so effortless for him. he hasn’t blown up yet but i think he’s more of a thirtysomething artist anyway. i can’t even believe clay aiken was a serious contender…ick. surely the most unattractive idol contestant ever – like ian beale in makeup.

latoya london – appreciate

best live performance – somewhere (west side story)

i don’t really like fantasia’s quacking vocals. for me, latoya was more talented and far classier, if not such a compelling performer. she could have been in the final another year. i’ve yet to find a better version of somewhere and so hers is the one i listen to.

elliot yamin – alright

best live performance – a song for you (donny hathaway)

i love him – chocolate, honey and vanilla wrapped up in one smooth voice. whilst soul purists may have balked at the idea, to me, elliot singing a donny hathaway song was inspired. how bland, gawky katherine mcphee and father ted impersonator taylor hicks beat him out to the final, i will never know. the proof will be in the longevity.

nikko -hot like summer

best performance – can we talk (tevin campbell)

back in the competition when another contestant dropped out, nikko turned in some great performances before he was eliminated and revived a classic tune from long forgotten r&b teen idol tevin campbell. kind of like usher with glasses, minus the stupid dancing.

mario vasquez – i bet

best performance – do i do (stevie wonder)

oh god…when mario performed stevie wonder’s ‘do i do’ in the semi final rounds, it was all over. and then he mysteriously disappeared. that ‘season’ (its a series! my bf yells this at the tv every year) descended into rock and country hell, with  carrie the country robot and throwback rocker bo in the final. 

jennifer hudson – love you i do

best performance – weekend in new england (barry manilow)

elton john vocalised what many people were thinking. it was spot on unlike his current ‘ban the internet’ tirade. how did jen slip under the radar? she totally outshone beyonce in dreamgirls and looking back, should have won that ‘season’. but i have to admit, i didn’t notice her star potential at the time either.