dirty martini

old music for new people

eurovision: a history of crime May 23, 2008

a few years ago, the bbc stopped trying to make eurovision cool. thank god. now we can start enjoying it again.

they’ve streamlined the voting which is quite annoying and has contributed to a decline in my ability to count to 20 in every european language and to verbalise the words ‘united kingdom’ in 25 different languages. 

they used to spend about four hours trying to connect by cb radio to gruff foreign presenters floating somewhere off the coast of depressing old finland, and that was half the entertainment…

you could get the atrocious and frankly superfluous singing out of the way early and settle in for the real event. playground politics implemented at nationwide level – all prejudices, past, current and future grudges displayed for all to see and guaranteed to have your dad hopping mad in front of the tv. jingoism, disguised as patriotism, at its very best.

1981 – bucks fizz – making your mind

well, jay left early on and was replaced some faceless woman. mike nolan had a car crash, cheryl baker became a tv presenter and bobby g, who knows…none of their subsequent achievements matched the then risque ripping of skirts to reveal…shorter skirts. bucks fizz are one of my earliest memories and this may explain a lot.

1982 – bardo – one step further

wait – the girl was a crackerjack presenter? never knew that. god i love this footage – its eurovision, the fast show’s channel 9 and 70s spanish holidays (which you could still go on until about 1990) all in one. love how standing back to back and a few badly timed power grabs passed for a dance routine back then. oh and the obligatory leg in air ending.

1983 – sweet dreams – never giving up

i didn’t realise i remembered this until i saw it today. carrie grant from fame academy! i’m assuming she had a makeover by the time she met david. apparently the blonde girl still sings and the limahl lookalike is now a welsh radio presenter. sooo smashie and nicey.

1984 – belle and the devotions – love games

i forgot this one too. thanks to the football hooligans that ruined most of the uk’s european activities throughout the 80s, this lot were booed offstage. back when that used to be an insult, kids. i’m sure for no other reason…cough…no actually they had some other hits. umm…

1985 – vikki – love is

she was channelling princess di back in 1985, but now is called aeone and writes tv and film scores. she looks kind of nuts now. she did also almost get flattened by meatloaf once but i’m sure there’s a lot of people with that particular claim to fame…

um…lots of hair rock…and then…

1990 – emma – give a little love back to the world

really cheesy effort for 1990 by a 15 year old welsh girl called emma booth. she looked exactly like all the older girls at my school at the time, who also had backcombed hair par excellence. but, significantly, they spent their spare time working out whether thunderbird or super strongbow got you pissed faster, instead of swaying around in shoulderpads singing about the environment with people two or three times their age.

1991 – samantha janus – a message to your heart

yeeeeeowch. it was a good job she could act wasn’t it? i suppose she slunk back to sylvia young’s theatre brat camp for a few years after this – its terrible what they get some of those kids to do in the name of celebrity. thankfully, a few years later she was surprisingly funny as mandy in fab 90s sitcom game on, and her career was back on track. until that ended. but now she’s in eastie, which let’s face it, is as good as it’ll get.

i can’t bear to include michael ball, sonia and frances ruffelle….

1995 – love city groove – love city groove

ok, at the time we thought this was going to win. all of a sudden, the 70s were over because lets face it, in eurovision world they got a 15 year extension. cool britannia was in full swing, britpop (which i admittedly hated) was all over the place, and we dared to enter a song which wasn’t sung exclusively by and for white people. it fell on its arse. eurovision was not ready.

1996 – gina g – just a little bit

this is not as bad as i remember. its terrible what nostalgia can do to you.

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miss jackson if you’re nasty April 17, 2007

ok, let’s get this out of the way first. janet jackson is not the best singer in the industry. but the standard appears to have now been set by artists who employ rampant melisma and the technically brilliant yet incredibly unappealing christina aguilera.

janet‘s breakthrough was in 1986 with the ‘control’ album produced by jimmy jam and terry lewis, previously members of prince‘s group, flyte time. no vocal gymnastics necessary, this album was anchored by janet‘s confident delivery and the precedent set by electro funk/soul such as shannon‘s ‘let the music play’ and cherrelle‘s ‘i didn’t mean to turn you on’.

the album was short – 8 tracks – but it was a crash course in being a young woman in 1986 and beyond. female assertion at a time when destiny’s child were trying to colour inside the lines at elementary school (subject to age verification, cough). janet instructed young girls to take control, cut family ties, kick your boyfriend into touch and make him wait for it.these were ideas that resonated with my pre-teen group, and even more so with the teenage community, who appreciated further reinforcement of the guidance from girls’ magazines like just seventeen and mizz on dealing with sex. in 1986, the media didn’t dare portray 12 year old girls getting pregnant and carrying on happily with their lives in the way coronation street and eastenders would have us believe is possible in recent years. they put out messages about safe sex and waiting until you were older, because society had a spiralling aids epidemic to combat before it even dealt with teenage mums. janet, in her own way, made it cool to say no.

hmm. twenty years ago, no one went online to find that 21 year old janet was in the process of divorcing first husband james debarge, whom she had married at 18. i’ve listened to the ‘control’ album differently since the 2005 claims that they in fact had a baby during their short marriage. back then, you got your info from magazines like smash hits and the one-off interview with parky or terry wogan, and so precious few people even realised she had been married.

of course, its entirely possible that some of the bitterness and icy resolve that made ‘control’ such a great album was a reflection of the fact that janet‘s first two albums, released in 1982 and 1984, flopped. actually they contained some great tracks but failed to inspire, the first merely reflecting the waning disco sound and the second lyrically damper but equally funky as ‘control’, let down by an ill-advised duet with cliff richard. yes, that’s cliff richard.

by the time janet followed up her successs with ‘rhythm nation 1814’ in 1989, social consciousness was the order of the day and this album’s title track remains the only credible plea for unity to date. almost making up for several self-indulgent cheesefests unleashed by her brother.

in the 90s she trod the safer, summery r&b route, to great effect, then lost her way slightly in the 00s by failing to live up to the standards she set for herself. however, in today’s gossip and scandal obsessed culture, surfacing rumours of an 80s baby with then teenage husband james debarge and that wardrobe malfunction have ensured her profile remains high regardless.

and you know you want to look that good when you hit 40. so here is some lesser known janet, enjoy!

top 10 lesser known janet tracksdownload here

making love in the rain
the first collaboration with jazz artist herb alpert released in 1987 , this is a sultry chillout track in a similar vein to ‘funny how time flies’.

diamonds
the second, and better known herb alpert track, following a similar path to the upbeat ‘control’ numbers.

he doesn’t know i’m alive
quintessentially 80s and often overlooked ‘control’ track. ok yes, i used to sing this into a hairbrush.

one more chance
1993 b side to ‘if’ from the ‘janet‘ era. probably left off due to the proliferation of slow jams making the album.

pretty boy
cool electro funk from the 1984 ‘dream street’ album. production-wise, a preview to things to come.

don’t mess up this good thing
janet was too young, and jumped on too late to be a disco pioneer. but this standout track from her self titled debut in 1982 was a taste of what might have been.

where are you now
mid-tempo remix of a melancholy ‘janet‘ track, made sunnier for the ‘janet:remixed’ album by nellee hooper.

70s love groove
janet:remixed’ track originally on the ‘you want this’ single. similar to ‘any time, any place’.

you need me
included on the re-released cassette version of ‘rhythm nation 1814’. a ‘miss you much’ clone (never a bad thing).

accept me
mid-tempo grower released as a b side to ‘every time’ from ‘the velvet rope’.