Chart Music – 2003

Yes! Back thanks to an almost universal lack of demand, I stretch back the scalp of time and feast upon the mushy innards of the past – in this instance I return to the UK music charts. If you’re interested, you can read my original post here – https://carlosnightman.wordpress.com/2015/10/22/the-uk-top-40/

neighbour.jpg

2003, Baby! Well, back then I had just passed from the jaded land of teenage dreams into the terrifying world of ‘I’m in my twenties’. I went to Glastonbury and saw a tonne of great bands – old and new, and I both marveled and despaired at the commercial music scene. On one hand, we had the continuing resurgence in the popularity of metal and rock from a commercial sense – shitty pop punk bands were ruling the airwaves alongside even worse post-grunge do-gooders. Most of the commercial metal hitting the charts in the US and UK was stagnant, but behind the scenes there was plenty to love. Bland UK and US mainstream rockers were the main order of the day, with a billion ‘The’ bands popping up from everywhere and some truly awful indie types making repetitive garbage that would be best suited to the numbing hell of a club dancefloor. On the other hand, what was now termed R’n’B continued to rise, manufactured, vapid pap from Television talent shows consistently traumatized those who actually like music, Madonna kissed Britney Spears, Pete Townsend looked at some awful pictures for research purposes, Michael Jackson met Martin Bashir and was then arrested, Phil Spector was accused of murder, Napster came back from the dead and was used by nobody, and ITunes was born and used by everybody.

But surely the music was influenced by what was happening in the word? The Space Shuttle Columbia fell to pieces on reentry, US and pals invaded Iraq looking for those pesky WMDs, and everybody continued to laugh at George Bush. As usual, various coups and uprisings began and ended around the world while people in US and Europe began taking steps to legalize or make same-sex marriage possible. Leslie Cheung killed himself, while many other notable stars passed away including Gregory Peck, June and Johnny Cash, Katherine Hepburn, Bob Hope, John Ritter, Jonathan Brandis, and many more. I was in my middle year of University witnessing all these things which would later inspire my billion selling book.

Lets take a look at what was being forced into our earholes by the radio overlords in October of 2003. Some of these are making me vomit just from remembering how bad they were, and a few I don’t recognize at all. Some I’m sure I’ll remember when I listen, and only one is remotely likeable. Here we go:

1: Black Eyed Peas: Where Is The Love. Does anybody even like Black Eyed Peas? I mean, honestly? Sure they have little tunes and little beats, but it’s all so showy and shitty. This isn’t their worst – it’s well meaning, apparently, but that chorus is a clear rip off of Natalie Imbruglia’s ‘Torn’. There’s no two ways about it. When it’s not ripping off some melodies from there, it’s ripping ideas from Michael Jackson to make an inferior, slightly twee but mostly okay song. Drum sounds are awful.

2: Beyonce: Baby Boy. I have no idea what this is. More miserable attempts at Beyoncé’s laughable grasping of feminism? Oh dear, it’s a ‘feat’. song. And oh dear, it’s Sean Paul. Has there every been a single song that Sean Paul has appeared on that has been anything better than terrible? Cheap Thrills is so much better without his robotic shite. Does Beyoncé have a thing for infants – is that what this is about? It’s about sex. It’s terrible. The backing thrusts of music are all faux-drama and threat, but with Beyoncé’s warbling over the top it sounds pathetic. It turns into some tribal Indian disaster near the end, not for musical reasons you understand – just so, I bet, Beyoncé can try out a new outfit and dance for the video.

3: Jamelia: Superstar. Yeah, this song was everywhere at the time and it’s still played quite frequently for something that’s almost 14 years old. Listening to this and the previous song, and listening to the charts today, makes you think that music has not progressed whatsoever in the last decade. Think about what happened between 1960 and 1974. Or 1974 and 1988. Or 1988 and 2002. I didn’t have any real problem with this one. It’s light, and it does have good melodies in verse and chorus. Jamelia’s voice is fine, doesn’t standout, but serves the song. It’s about sex.

4: Rachel Stevens: Sweet Dreams My LA Ex. So, this was the hot one from S Club 7. I think I’ve heard the song name, but don’t think I’ve heard the song. Spanish/funky chords. Terrible drum noises. Terrible attempts at sexy vocals. Terrible attempt at emulating Britney. Feeble, generic verse and chorus. Bland bland nothingness. It’s about sex.

5: The Darkness: I Believe In A Thing Called Love. I saw The Darkness at Glastonbury just before they exploded for a brief couple of years. Sure they’re a joke band, but that didn’t stop them from making catchy songs and they don’t get more catchy and unusual than this in chart music. It’s about sex.

6: Dido: White Flag. Speaking of bland bland nothingness, ladies and gentlemen… Dido! We all loved Stan when it came out, but then Dido started popping up everywhere, for no reason. I think this song would be better if someone else was singing. But that empty void of a voice, coupled with the silent elevator fart of the music does make the whole thing sound like a surrender.

7: The Strokes: 12:51. Ugh, I can’t stand The Strokes. They are basically Status Quo, but without the musical ability. Ha. Or the ear for a tune. Lets see if I know this one. Surprise surprise – tap tap tap the SAME FUCKING RHYTHM AND SAME REPETITIVE CHORDS ON EVERY SINGLE SONG. Here is every Strokes song ever – d d d d d d d d d duh duh duh duh duh duh duh duh DO DO DO DO DO DO DO DO CHUH CHUH CHUH CHUH CHUH CHUH CHUH CHUH. How did The Strokes even happen? How did people fall for this!? It is as generic as Rachel Stevens and as bland as Dido. Arguably the worst successful rock band ever.

8: S Club 8: Sun Down. There was an S Club 8? Why don’t I remember this? Did they add another member to 7 or is it a sequel to Juniors? Who the fuck cares, none of it should have ever happened. Holy hell this is bad. Just listen to that music? The annoying thing is that the leading melodies are catchy, even if it does rip off everything from Abba to Kylie Minogue. This exists solely to teach 8 year olds how to dance. Badly. It’s about sex.

9: Texas: Carnival Girl. Jeebus, this really wants to take the crown of most bland list ever. Texas is the same as Dido. Charlene Spit-Near-Ye may well be Dido in disguise. I thought I knew this one, but it doesn’t sound familiar. WTF rapping balls is this. Is that Sean Paul? Possibly Paul Sean. It’s definitely Feat. someone. Poor poor poor.

10: Fast Food Rockers: Say Cheese. Never heard of this in my life. And within the first three seconds I wish I could still say that. What the absolute balls is this? Chav noise for the braindead.

Now that’s out of the way, lets take a look at what you could have been listening to. We had decent album releases from the likes of Children Of Bodom, Cult Of Luna, Strapping Young Lad, Opeth etc. Outside of metal there was a new Madonna album, and releases by Radiohead, The Mars Volta, Placebo, Muse, and probably others. Below is a much better selection of songs to enrich your life and remind you that yes, somewhere out there are folks making genuinely good stuff.

  1. Pink: Humble Neighbourhoods.

2. Lene Marlin: Fight Against The Hours

3. Alice Cooper: The Song That Didn’t Rhyme

4. Muse: Thoughts Of A Dying Atheist

5. The Bangles: Something That You Said

6. Iron Maiden – No More Lies

7. Manic Street Preachers: Judge Yrself

8. Radiohead – Myxomatosis

9. Opeth: Windowpane

10. Ben Harper: She’s Only Happy In The Sun

Listen to mine, it’s the only logical choice. Let us know in the comments what you thought about any of the songs above and what you remember about 2003!

Advertisements

Best Original Song – 1971

Official Nominations: Theme From Shaft – Shaft. The Age Of Not Believing – Bedknobs And Broomsticks. All His Children – Sometimes A Great Notion. Bless The Beasts And Children – Bless The Beasts And Children. Life Is What You Make It – Kotch.

You know you’ve entered the 1970s when you hear those opening cymbols and guitars from the Shaft Theme. As iconic a song as you’re ever likely to hear, I had the pleasure of seeing Hayes play it live. It’s a rarity for a movie such as Shaft to receive any notice from The Academy, but the quality of the music is unavoidable and it is a deserving winner. Now, just compare that with The Age Of Not Believing, a cynical attempt at cashing in on the success of Mary Poppins. The lyrics are good, but the music, melody, and performance are all dreadful. It is quite clear that the world has moved on from such songs when paired with Shaft. All His Children is another weird choice, a dreary old Country Western song that sounds ridiculous alongside Shaft. Bless The Beasts And Children is a long forgotten song and film, but in both cases it feels like they should be cult hits – a coming of age outsiders tale, and a gorgeous performance by The Carpenters over a fairly average song. Life Is What You Make It is a touching song from a touching film, but let down by that old style vocal performance I despise.

My Winner: Theme From Shaft

sha.jpg

My Nominations: Diamonds Are Forever. Theme From Shaft. The Candy Man. Pure Imagination. I’ve Got A Golden Ticket.

Joining Theme From Shaft is one of the most famous Bond songs. Diamonds Are Forever is timeless and iconic, and features one of Shirley Bassey’s most incredible performances, though my favourite part has always been the eerie intro. My final three picks are all from Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory – film etched into the minds of every British person who grew up in the 70s or 80s. It was played every year in my school towards the end of term, and rarely a month passes where it isn’t shown on TV. The Candy Man may be the most famous track worldwide, due to various covers and popping up in The Simpsons etc. It’s a saccharine, juicy, light and joyful song. Pure Imagination is exactly as the name suggests, a wistful, beautiful song with a dreamlike quality which instantly transports you back to your childhood. I’ve Got A Golden Ticket is another fun, hook-laden track, a song of celebration and hope. The film has a number of other memorable songs, but these three are the strongest.

My Winner: Theme From Shaft.

Let us know your winner in the comments!

Amazon Vine Freebies – January 2017

It’s a brand new year! Or at least it was when it started, all those months ago. Here’s what I grabbed:

John Frieda Sheer Blonder Hi Impact Vibrancy Restoring Shampoo 250ml

Head Restorin’

John Frieda Sheer Blonde Colour Renew Tone Correcting Shampoo 250 ml

‘Ed Sheeran

John Fridea Frizz Ease Miraculous Recovery Shampoo, 250ml

Frizzin’

John Frieda Frizz Ease Forever Smooth Shampoo 250 ml

Smoothin’

The LEGO® BATMAN MOVIE: Choose Your Super Hero Doodle Activity Book (Lego® DC Comics)

Doodlin’

Baylis & Harding La Maison Linen Rose & Cotton Luxury Wash Bag

Hardin’

Waterpik WP-950 Complete Care 7.0 Sonic Toothbrush and Water Flosser (UK 2-Pin Bathroom Plug) – White

Flossin’

Mr Men: My Mummy (Mr. Men and Little Miss Picture Books)

Mummin’

Dr KittyCat is Ready to Rescue: Pumpkin the Hamster

Pumpkin’

The Time Machine (Oxford World’s Classics)

Delorean’

RED WAGON Girl’s Suede Skirt, Black, 6 Years

Wagons Rollin’

Macbeth

*Originally written in 2004 – I actually included this version of Macbeth in some of my University work on Shakespeare on film, along with Throne Of Blood… that work was probably better than this post

macbeth-musical

Famous for going through several cuts, budget and time problems, and for being slammed by critics at the time for its strange imagery and dark and foreboding tone, Welles’s Macbeth has now been recognised as a good, if not great adaptation made even more admirable by the constraints which constantly surrounded it.

The story of Macbeth is simple and well-known: Macbeth, proud soldier and follower of his King Duncan, stumbles upon a Witches’ Haven one night with his partner Banquo. The Witches give their prophecy that Macbeth will eventually become King, and that the sons of Banquo will also reign. This worries both men, but they decide to discuss it later. On hearing the prophecy, the ambitious Lady Macbeth inspires Macbeth to murder Duncan and usurp the throne, which he does. Soon guilt sinks in along with deep paranoia and Macbeth believes that everyone is out to get him.

Welles keeps fairly close to Shakespeare’s dark work in dialogue and plot, and certainly gives his film the same feel which the play itself gives. The setting is dark, rocky, full of shadows and isolated, and the choice of Black and White filming adds greatly to the tone. Welles shows he is a master of lighting, shadow, and contrast, and uses this ability to its fullest. As Macbeth’s paranoia grows, the imagery becomes more surreal and ominous – hangman’s trees stooping in the background; long takes to emphasize the growing worries in his mind. Overall, Welles captures the play’s atmosphere perfectly. His portrayal of Macbeth as a man not in control of his own fate is good, and of course his acting is fine. The rest of the cast is also strong, including big names like Mcdowall, Herhily, and Napier. Much has been said about the heavy accents but it’s something I personally overlooked. The final scenes, full of religious imagery, are very good although Macbeth’s death has been done better and it seemed that the Holy Father character was only included so that Macbeth could end on…well, I won’t spoil it. Not as good as Kurosawa’s, take but a very different film with a very different style.

Let us know in the comments what you thought of this version of The Scottish Play!

Nightman Listens To – David Bowie – Lodger

lod.jpg

Greetings, Glancers! We’re back in the weird and wacky and often infuriating musical world of Monsiour Bowie and his thirteenth album Lodger. I’ll be honest and say that it’s not one I really know anything about – I never hear anybody talking about it and I don’t recall seeing it in many Best Album lists. That will probably mean it turns out to be my favourite by him so far. Well then, I see no sense in ‘anging ’bout.

Fantastic Voyage. Drums. Guitar and piano. Familiar Bowie vocals and beat. A little woozy and gospel. Building. Big note. Sounds like the lyrics are just as vital today. A nice start.

African Night Flight. Noises. Worse noises. Bangs. Tribal space loops. Rapping. This is certainly different. Can’t help but smile at this one. I mean, it’s not good but it’s certainly hypnotic, ambitious, and draws you in. I think I wold like this more with multiple listens.

Move On. Guitar phased. Galloping. Deep vocals. So a lot of this is being inspired by Africa. Name dropping other places. Very loose. None of the songs have had a traditional structure or obvious hook yet, though each has been interesting in its own way and not off-putting. Shouty vocals now.

Yassassin. Jaunty guitars and organs. Reggae beat. Arabian string sounds. Arabian vocals. It’s interesting again, another one with a sound different to the songs before it. So far these are all songs that are difficult to capture on first listen – they seem dense and mysterious and will only reveal their secrets after a few more goes.

Red Sails. Low. Building drums. Faster. Asian vocals and noises. A little spacey. Crazy guitar. Crazy vocals. Like a bunch of space pirates on acid. It’s okay, it’s a little too close in pace and general style to his glam stuff, but different enough in sound to not put me off.

DJ. Drums. Disaster strings. Funky. Bass loopy, guitar disco. Lyrics sound like he is taking the piss out of DJs for self important. Goes on a bit too long.

Look Back In Anger. Fast. Boxing ring bells. Great drums. Guitar spikes. Good vocals. Another interesting one that does its own thing.

Boys Keep Swinging. Well, I know this one. Or more accurately, I know the Susanna Hoffs cover from her mostly crappy debut solo album. I haven’t heard the original before. That Hoffs album has notoriously bad production, this sounds better instantly. I can see why she chose to cover it, but it’s not amazing. Good bass. These last albums have all had fantastic musical work from the surrounding band. Solo. Sounds an awful lot like some of the solos on The Holy Bible so I assume the Manics borrowed this sound.

Repetition. Guitar chord. Bass weirdness. Falling through a dream. Dazed wandering through a crowded foreign city. Sounds like a song about beatings. The sound and song title suggesting madness and inevitability and no escape? It’s another weird one, but okay.

Red Money. More weirdness. Military beat, off kilter bass. Off kilter everything. This is slow and mesmerizing again, but along with the previous song feels like a slow down, or a peddle off the gas, both in terms of pace and quality. Still good though, but maybe a little too experimental for most.

I said this would probably be my favourite because I didn’t know anything about it, and honestly it’s pretty close. As I mention a few times above, I think the songs here demand multiple listens and unlike some of his other stuff I am more than willing to stick this one on again – it could be that the songs don’t work on a personal level after I hear them more and are more like cutesy tracks that only work once, but I expect them to grow on me more. There are no obvious hits here so I understand why this one is not rated as highly as others, but there are no weak songs here and each one is quite different.

Let us know in the comments what you think of Lodger. Were you around when it was first released? How do you rank it alongside Bowie’s other works?

Best Costume Design – 1971

Official Nominations: Nicholas And Alexandra. Bedknobs And Broomsticks. Death In Venice. Mary, Queen Of Scots. What’s The Matter With Helen.

Two obvious picks with two big costume dramas – three other normals. Take your pick between Yvonne Blake and Antonio Castillo’s Nicholas And Alexandra and Margaret Furse’s Mary, Queen Of Scots. 

My Winner: Nicholas And Alexandra

4102a.jpg

My Nominations: Nicholas And Alexandra. Mary, Queen Of Scots. A Clockwork Orange. McCabe And Mrs Miller. Red Sun. Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory.

Along with the costume dramas I add three should-have-beens, and one never-would-have-been. A Clockwork Orange may not at first glance seem as visually arresting as some of Kubrick’s other work, but the attention to detail in costume and set design is paramount. A Clockwork Orange wouldn’t be see unnerving without the pale, iconic, almost jumpsuit look of Alex and his droogs often as a counterpoint to the more stylized 70s flair of everyone else. McCabe And Mrs Miller is of course a gorgeous movie with the costumes a huge part of the overall tone, while the characters in Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory appear as extensions of their clothing – from the drab look of Charlie and his grandfather to the exuberant red festive attire of Veruca, not to mention Wonka and the Oompa Loompas. Finally, lets add Red Sun as it doesn’t get mentioned enough.

droogs

My Winner: A Clockwork Orange

Let us know your winner in the comments below!