dirty martini

old music for new people

the ex factor October 18, 2008

guess who i’m loving this year?

so far this series is shaping up much better than the last. of course the judges have made mistake in their choices. especially simon, who needs a new sidekick to replace sinitta, a woman who not only wants us to believe that she’s been 39 for the last ten years, but who also allowed mali-michael to slip away in favour of a fucking bluecoat.

let me preface what i’m about to say by admitting that i have never had any time for cheryl cole and think she’s the weakest singer in girls aloud. BUT she is the only judge who got her top 3 spot on. louis needs to give up on the 90s, simon needs to stop trying to hoist demonic kids on the general public and dannii…needs to learn about the music industry. and then she might not only become a better judge but also find out why her career was such a damp squib that she was still doing guest spots more than ten years after arriving on the scene.

let’s hope the rumours that sharon will return to replace spoon face are true.

as is tradition, these are the songs they should sing, but won’t cos…they just won’t.

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alexandra

toni braxton – love shoulda brought you home

obviously the best singer but not sure she can win unless the sob stories are ejected early. i can see her coming a cropper against some talentless waste of space, a la maria lawson.

austin

prince – raspberry beret

looks like he was brought up on crisps. he’ll need to overcome the slightly mangy air he has about him if he doesn’t want to repel the snootier class of x factor voter with his caravantastic style.

bad lashes

sugababes – overload

bit too desperate, not at all surprising to me that they received the boot in the first week. when will girls who try too hard to be alternative realise that this completely misses the point they were trying to make…

daniel

simply red – you’ve got it

they took it a bit too far with the sympathy vote this year…when it comes to picking finalists you have to put emotion aside. that said, his ricky gervais inspired performance last week was supremely entertaining, for all the wrong reasons.

diana

tasmin archer – sleeping satellite

the music diana would make would be a million miles from the type of thing i would ever listen to, but i just about get why shes in the finals. she reminds me a bit, unfortunately, of the girl who claimed to invent indie music, said something racist and got slung out of big brother last year.

eoghan

stevie wonder – sir duke (because he couldn’t and then he’d get the boot – yay!)

x factor law dictates that there is always a token irish contestant who’s shit but provides louis with a valuable opportunity to remind everyone why they don’t take his decisions at all seriously, at each once a series. remember those hideous conway sisters? this one looks like a cross between jamie oliver and a vole.

girlband

don’t care…oh they should just go all out to escape the boot by singing a girls aloud song – chemistry

won’t win unless hell freezes over. how this lot got through i have no idea…girls aloud’s success is completely owed to stylists and producers. not louis walsh. this lot might as well rename themselves ‘girls are loud’ and start impersonating them at student unions.

jls

new edition – mr telephone man

love them. there are so many reasons why they should win and i hope they do. whether they’ll strike the right note with the sat-at-home chavs who vote thirty times a night is another matter. there are so many potential songs for them…I’d like to see them take it back to the 80s at some point.

laura

keyshia cole –  i just want it to be over

has a funny mouth. whether or not this will endear her to voters or put them off their chicken korma remains to be seen. is undeniably talented but it’s so obvious with some of these really young contestants that they’ve grown up imitating certain singers and you start to wonder whether’s it’s really ‘them’.

rachel

chaka khan – i know you, i live you

you know how it is when you have a boss who is shit at their job and you not so secretly believe that you know better? that was all over rachel’s face last week. dannii made herself and robyn, who could but wish to be able to sing like rachel, look like muppets.

ruth

jennifer lopez – if you had my love

not a very spanish name, ruth, is it? that girl has the biggest hair i’ve ever seen too. i bet she needs a lot of product to keep it under control. i think my hair might be spanish. she’s going to run out of recognisable latin songs to sing…but she might as well put jennifer lopez’s vocal skills in perspective while she’s at it.

the bluecoat

take that – pray

i couldn’t give a shit what his name is. he’s not even a redcoat, for fuck’s sake. at least butlins had those cool indoor swimming things with the flumes, back in the day. anyway, anyone who can’t even stand up to a mentor who makes them sing a 23 year old song by matt bianco has got no chance. what on earth was simon thinking? does he not even want to win anymore?

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life on mars July 11, 2008

i’ve never really been a fan of space. not keen on red dwarf, and the closest i ever came to star wars or star trek was being forced to play princess leia during countless ‘wet playtimes’ at infant school. if they let us outside i would head straight for the fence…anyway, i have no idea which one princess leia originates from and i don’t care.

i liked pigs in space though.  and button moon rocked ‘home lunchtimes’ once a week, with its blatant product placement for heinz and fairy liquid. you would have thought they could have stumped up a couple of quid in return. that would have boosted the budget to about £7.50 per series.

jay kay, by contrast, clearly had a space fetish as a child.

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bill – space lady

earth wind and fire – jupiter

houseband – hey what planet is this

jamiroquai – emergency on planet earth

jamiroquai – cosmic girl

jamiroquai – space cowboy

kelis – shooting stars

maxwell – gravity

midnight star – body snatchers

rah band – clouds across the moon

sheila and b devotion – spacer

stevie wonder – rocket love

 

70s love groove June 27, 2008

i love that sound they used in the 70s. i can hardly articulate it but the theme tune to ‘robin’s nest’ is a perfect example. apparently it’s called mini-moog.

no matter what decade is currently being revived, the 70s remain cool. check out the tarantino soundtrack that never was, those 70s boy bands and the rainbow funk children.

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aretha franklin – until you come back to me

brothers johnson – tomorrow

cameo – sparkle

chaka khan – stay

earth wind and fire – devotion

heatwave – all you do is dial

isley brothers – at your best

kool and the gang – jones vs jones

maze and frankie beverly – southern girl

ramp – daylight

raydio – jack and jill

stevie wonder – you’ve got it bad girl

 

you must be my lucky star February 3, 2008

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stars are everywhere this season. i love it when the star prints pop up in shops. not as cutesy as hearts and infinitely more interesting than polka dots.

my favourite childhood dress was a little white rara dress with blue, red and yellow pastel stars. i haven’t found anything for my grown up wardrobe that was quite right but i live in hope. in the meantime i do have an old ollie and nic bag in green velvet with purple stars, which i love.

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air – kelly watch the stars

i loved ‘moon safari’. if you can’t decide whether something sounds retro or futuristic, or both, that’s generally a good thing.

cheri – star struck

cheri were a moderately successful 80s girl band a la the mary jane girls and vanity 6.

china black – stars

like the lighthouse family, china black were always on the edge of sounding a bit worthy, a common affliction for brit soulsters.

con funk shun – she’s a star

very prolific but not a widely known as their peers such as kool and the gang and earth wind and fire…

earth wind and fire – star

…who had a penchant for singing about stars. this is lesser known than ‘shining star’ but i prefer it.

heatwave – star of the story

one word – royalties. ‘mind blowing decisions’, ‘boogie nights’ and ‘always and forever’ must have earned this lot a fair wad over the years.

index – starlight

early 80s boogie soul.

madonna – lucky star

perhaps the most starry sounding song about stars ever.

mariah carey – underneath the stars

think deep blue skies, wet green grass and twinkling yellow stars.

prince – baby i’m a star

golden era prince.

rah band – message from the stars

cute, slightly novelty band. you could get away with that kind of stuff in the 80s without being labelled completely shit.

simply red – stars

i loved this.

stevie wonder – another star

stevie didn’t venture into disco too often despite releasing quite a few albums in that era.  

terri walker – star

another underrated uk r&b artist…

 

‘…sounds a bit like prince…’ January 4, 2008

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 as a new artist, or even as an established artist, one of the greatest endorsements is to be labelled as sounding ‘a bit like prince’.

the saving grace of lazy journalists everwhere, these few words can rescue a flopping album, even if they are only bestowed upon one or two tracks. now that prince himself is more rock-fixated, the promise of just one or two scraps reminiscent of his 80s prime can be sufficient to spark interest amongst the musical cognoscenti.

to a lesser extent, this peculiar brand of retro copycat hype has previously been applied to artists lauded as the new ‘stevie wonder’ or ‘madonna’. there isn’t going to be a new prince, and it turned out out that those artists were similarly irreplaceable. the excitable, yet totally unreal, music journalism of the the late 90s has given way to a more considered approach.

we don’t need a new prince – clearly the man has produced gargantuan amounts of music and yet more could be unleashed at any point (please). the accessibility of retro music means that we don’t need rafts of exciting new artists – gone are the days when you had to pay a premium to get hold of music that was no longer in the charts.

we just need a few new songs every now and then. and they should sound as much like ‘when doves cry’ as possible.

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alicia keys – like you’ll never see me again

debuted with an album containing a prince cover – a b side no less, to show her fan credentials.  on this track, not only the production, but the vocal style and lyrics ooze purple. a lesser artist could be accused of bandwagon hopping but alicia has already proved herself.

chris brown – take you down

chris brown, however, has clearly been advised that the tumble tots r&b will only take him so far and is trialling a new, more adult musical direction – prince. job one should have been to work on that childish feature in his voice that makes him sound like he’s not old enough to form singular vowels – evidence: ‘you make me say yeeeeeoooooaaaaaawwwwww’. shit, my cat forms better vowels than that.

the dream – fast car

i like what i’ve heard from the dream so far, which isn’t a lot. but this and album track ‘nikki’ do reek of ‘obligatory prince-esque production’ to hook gullible and lazy journalists and perk up enthusiastic but clueless PR. basically this is ‘little red corvette’ not-so-updated for the 00s.

erykah badu – honey

an interesting detour for ms badu. i love her music but neo-soul artists can often fall into the dull and worthy trap, making their albums unlistenable by the time they get to their fourth outing.

justin timberlake and beyonce – until the end of time

the influence is slightly more subtle here, but those ‘when doves cry’ instruments are there, just slower, and the overall vibe is classic prince slow jam.

kevin michael – liquid lava love

like robin thicke with a curly afro and arguably more soul. expect big things from this one.

ne-yo – sex with my ex

ne-yo got a lot of stick for allegedly being gay. then when he fathered a child, he got a lot of stick for being ugly. now he’s getting a lot of stick for churning out a raft of soundalike tracks for the artsts he produces for. with all this abuse perhaps he’ll soon have more in common with craaaaaaig david.

p diddy and keyshia cole – last night

an absolute, straight in your face ‘erotic city’ ripoff so blatant that you can’t really argue. as ever, diddy’s montone adds little to the proceedings.

ryan leslie – i-r-i-n-a

ryan leslie’s productions have more than a whiff of purple about them but his own album was fairly narrative and self-celebratory which isn’t prince’s style. prince’s lyrics are cute and playful and focus on the subject rather than the protagonist and so i’m talking production similarities here – there’s no parallel in terms of subject matter, although this is the closet r-les gets to purple greatness.

snoop – sensual seduction

the video and lyrics are classic prince, but the production?  not like anything i’ve heard from prince, but perhaps i’m missing something. the synths are straight out of early 90s chillout, i’m pretty sure they’re too floaty and random for the machine funk of the 80s. nice combo though, me likey.

sterling simms – nasty girl

sterling jumps right back to late 70s prince while everyone else tries to recreate the 80s.

van hunt – hot stage lights

i only just listened to van hunt after hearing his name for years. and now i have a new musical crush. the only good thing about discovering artists late is that there is usually plenty of material to whet your appetite.

 

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…

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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…

 

x factor 2007:back to the day job December 1, 2007

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 now, i love the x factor but this year it’s going downhill. finding someone as talented as leona lewis was always going to be a problem but something is seriously wrong here. i can barely watch what’s going to happen.

simon is staking his claim on an unlikely spice girls reunion induced girlband fever and the high school musical cashcow rather than credibility this year. louis is doing that odd rocking backwards and forwards thing again which makes him look like an outpatient on bingo leave. sharon’s frustration at the vote fixing is bubbling over for anyone to see. dannii is clearly trying to rise above the unspoken criticism that she’s in no position to judge anyone’s singing ability.

they tried to turn this series into american idol – so much so, hell, why not call it a season. the four judges sit there, knowing that brian friedman, the allegedly straight choreographer has screwed the acts up so entirely with his ludicrous performance direction that they can’t concentrate. but they can’t say anything, see, cos he’s playing along with this whole charade that he decided to step down from the judge’s panel himself. if they place the decline of this year’s x factor squarely at his feet, as well they might, he’ll sing like a canary. a really camp one.

most of these acts have already gone but i hope and pray for a wildcard week. forget lady shiverz and the fact that alisha was given bum songs apart from ‘valerie’. forget that rhydian is essentially a novelty act. forget that hope are sorely needed to relieve those queues back in primark. forget the fact that niki appears to have gone a bit doolally. forget the fact that simon is running out of non-incestuous songs for same difference. we need to start over.

in reality, i don’t really care about any of the acts who are left but i suppose i would prefer niki to win, of anyone. and this is what they should sing:

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alisha should sing…tracy chapman – fast car

kimberley should sing…tina arena – show me heaven

emily should sing…amerie – crush

futureproof should sing…after 7 – nights like this

hope should sing…mary jane girls – in my house

same difference should sing…rihanna and chris brown – umbrella

beverley should sing…gladys knight – if i were your woman

niki should sing…wendy moten – come in out of the rain

old faceless bloke who thinks he’s james blunt…hall and oates – rich girl

leon should sing…stevie wonder – knocks me off my feet

rhydian should sing…barry manilow – weekend in new england

young faceless bloke who think’s he’s james blunt…savage garden – to the moon and back