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/

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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!

Chart Music – 2011

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/

Greetings, Glancers! Once more we torture ourselves by listening to what passes for music in the hearts, minds, and ears of the great unwashed. Today we go back to a year you should all remember well, because it was only five years ago. In 2011 the world was still in the grip of talentless shows, celeb shows – basically not too different from today in that almost every form of popular media which receives any sort of exposure was glossy, bland, and sexualised to the point that we all wished we could be celibate. I mean, just look at the top 10 below, just look. You don’t need to listen at all, I… I wouldn’t do that to you. But what else was happening? The Arab Spring, the March 11th Tsunami, Occupy Wall Street, William and Kate’s Wedding – all horrific events, so it was no wonder everyone was excited when we found evidence of water on Mars; it’s time to get off this rock! Oh yeah, Bin Laden was killed too.

In the music world, Amy Winehouse, Bert Jansch, Gary Moore, Mike Starr and others died. Adele released her horrible second album, a bunch of people you’ve already forgotten won Brit Awards, Lady Gaga did something, Jeff Hanneman was almost killed by a spider, and Nightwish released both a new album and a tie in movie. Help me out here… did anything else happen? No? Okay then, lets get through this as quickly as possible.

1: Rihanna: We Found Love

I don’t think I’ve actually heard this entire song before, but I know the chorus as it is played EVERYWHERE ALL THE TIME. It’s a pity Rihanna screeches so badly out of her nose because some of her songs are okay. Terrible speaking. Isn’t this the one where the video was filmed 10 minutes from my parent’s house? So the verse is pretty much the same as the chorus, but with different words. Meh.

2: Maroon 5: Moves Like Jagger.

An absolute travesty. Like injecting shards of glass into your eyeballs and having a badger pull them out. I ain’t linking this.

3: Gym Class Heroes: Stereo Hearts.

I don’t know what this is. High pitched accent disaster. Words. It’s pretty tame. It’s pretty crap. I can imagine plenty singing along to it. Possibly swaying their arms. NEXT!

4: Christina Perri: Jar Of Hearts.

I don’t know who this is. Talky sing. Yes, I’ve heard the chorus. Doesn’t it rip off that Beyonce Halo song? It feels emotional. The bridge isn’t great. PRAMISAYIZ? Promises? Halo-eeo-ooh!

5: LMFAO: Sexy And I Know It.

See number 2. But with a rabid tramp replacing the badger.

6: Matt Cardle: Run For Your Life.

Remember him? Poor Matt. A winner cursed by a win. I’ve never heard this. The verse at least tries something unusual with it’s stoppy, starty beat, but the chorus then turns to X Factor white bread shite.

7: Charlene Soraia: Wherever You Will Go.

Who? Never heard of you. Can’t hear the music. Oh right, I think I’ve head this. Yeah, another one which is used annoyingly on TV ads. Not much to it. Verses too faint, chorus too overplayed. NEXT!

8: Sak Noel: Loca People.

Who? Never heard of ye. Oh here we go. Terrible. NEXT!

9: Ed Sheeran: The A Team.

Another one from this ginger twat. Sullying the good name of the A Team. You’re not Damien Rice. You’re not even chicken curry. That fecking accent. NEXT!

10: One Direction: What Makes You Beautiful

NEXT!

What a mess. Cleanse yourself with these messages from our alternate sponsor:

  1. Nightwish: Rest Calm
  2. Mastodon: Creature Lives
  3. Opeth: Marrow Of The Earth
  4. Alice Cooper: I Am Made Of You
  5. The Music: So Low (yes yes, originally released much earlier)

That’s about it really. We did also get albums from Kate Bush, Radiohead, Chili Peppers, and many more, but I’m just not as familiar with them to pick something great, and without resorting to the bands above I can’t choose anything else. Let me know what else was good in 2011 – there must have been something!?

God Bless America

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Listen, any film which pays respect to Alice Cooper is always going to be a winner in my book, but one which updates and possibly upgrades many of the ideas of Natural Born Killers whilst retaining a viciously dark humour and which features a number of outstanding performances, well that may mean we have a classic on our hands.

I believe this is the first film I have seen by Bobcat Goldthwait, but I’ve been a big fan of his since the Police Academy days. The film is more satirical than his most popular stand up and previous movie routines and performances, maybe that’s because he’s behind the camera here, or maybe he’s older and wiser, or most likely of all maybe he’s just a comedian and can do whatever the hell he likes. Pointing a gun at the face of the audiences and purveyors of self-obsession, vapid voided celebrities, and the spoiled, rich, morality free, God Bless America is equal parts road movie, comedy, thriller, and political diatribe – a plea to not let the system get you down, get in your way, or suck you in.

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The film starts with a horrific day in the life of average white American man Frank, played with a weary gravitas by Joel Murray – his character a cross between Michael Douglas in Falling Down and Victor Meldrew from One Foot In The Grave. He is presented as a lonely, good sort of bloke – man whose wife left him, whose teen daughter has turned into a Paris Hilton wannabe, who has been fired from his job for trying to perform a good deed, and who has been informed of having terminal cancer – it’s enough to make anyone snap. On the verge of killing himself, he catches an awful reality show about self-interested teens and has a better idea – kill them and leave the world a better place. In performing this deed he finds an unlikely, unhinged ally in Roxy – another teenage girl who is sick of the rich and the worthless, and together they embark on a fun adventure across the States to kill those who they deem the most undeserving of life – bad people who only exist to further their own interests and don’t care about others. It’s not exactly Dexter, but in many ways it’s a hell of a lot more entertaining.

I enjoyed the relationship between the two central characters – both actors give strong performances and relish the carnage they unleash, spitting their way through the none to subtle but nevertheless relevant and quotable dialogue. There is a pleasing amount of violence and while it never gets as overblown as Natural Born Killers there is definitely a cartoonish element. I see pleasing because it gives the same sort of catharsis as sticking on a first person shooter videogame and blasting our way through hordes of virtual enemies. The people killed on screen are ever so slightly skewed and more extreme versions of plenty of people who populate our real lives and media nowadays, and while the film in no way advocates taking up arms against them, it does raise many important questions about why these people, these hate-filled, poisonous entities, are placed on the highest of pinnacles and allowed to wield so much influence and power.

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If you lean to the right in politics or religion or because you have a curve in your spine, then this movie won’t be for you; it it clearly for the left, albeit a consciously knowing, self-deprecating left with a lively sense of humour. If you don’t feel particularly politically inclined, then there is plenty to enjoy here too – don’t assume that the film spouts agendas from every squirting orifice – mostly it’s just two people romping around the country killing people who are presented as deserving of brutal deaths, all the while joking and listening to kick ass music. As someone who also despises the sorts of reality shows and celebrity shows that are mocked here (ironic given the amount of love given on this site to famous people – the difference being that those features on this blog are usually highly talented) I found the movie said a lot of the things which I have felt over the years. The film deserves to reach a much wider audience than it did upon release, and although it has since attained some sort of cult status, it is not a film you hear being talked about very often. Released at a time when school and public shootings are constantly in the news, the film suffered rather than thrived because of its relevance. If you don’t mind being possibly offended, and if anything in my review sounds like the sort of thing you might enjoy then I have no doubt that you’ll have a great time watching this – highly recommended.

Let us know in the comments if you have seen God Bless America and what you made of it!

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Hilarious Lyrics Translations – June 2015

All About That Bass

I’ll be honest, and proud, at the outset to say that I’ve never actually heard this song. I’ve heard pieces of it, and I’ve caught snippets of the video, and those crumbs have been enough for me to know that it’s terrible. Any song with a title like that is already off to a bad start because nothing is ever about bass. Insert bass beer pic with ‘except this’. Also, all those pastel colours and smiling and dancing makes me want to whip out the old hockey mask and go Voorhies on them all. But maybe it’s all ironic… irony still exists in pop music, right? Surely not everything glossy in the top 40 is shallow and pretty and about humps and booty and swag – note to self – contact Michael Mann and see if he would entertain the idea of a movie featuring a bank heist perpetuated by a sinister group of Dromedary and Bactrian camels.

EVERYBODY ON THE FLOOR NOW, HANDS BEHIND YOUR BACKS! HOOOOONNNK!

I am aware that Trainor has made some other song with a similar video, so I assume these colours and dresses and smiles are just her thing, or the thing which her publicity team tells her should be her thing. Not to be a complete testicle, lets give the lass the old college try and read through the lyrics to see if we can gleam any insight into what it means to be a successful young woman in the entertainment industry in the Genesis of our 21st Century. Maybe I’ll even listen to the song!

The Original

Because you know I’m all about that bass, ‘Bout that bass, no treble
I’m all ’bout that bass, ’bout that bass, no treble. I’m all ’bout that bass, ’bout that bass, no treble
I’m all ’bout that bass, ’bout that bass

Yeah it’s pretty clear, I ain’t no size two, But I can shake it, shake it like I’m supposed to do
‘Cause I got that boom boom that all the boys chase. All the right junk in all the right places
I see the magazines working that Photoshop, We know that shit ain’t real, Come on now, make it stop
If you got beauty beauty just raise ’em up, ‘Cause every inch of you is perfect From the bottom to the top
Yeah, my momma she told me don’t worry about your size, She says, boys they like a little more booty to hold at night
You know I won’t be no stick-figure, silicone Barbie doll,
So, if that’s what’s you’re into, Then go ahead and move along

Because you know I’m all about that bass, ‘Bout that bass, no treble
I’m all ’bout that bass, ’bout that bass, no treble I’m all ’bout that bass, ’bout that bass, no treble
I’m all ’bout that bass, ’bout that bass

I’m bringing booty back Go ahead and tell them skinny bitches Hey
No, I’m just playing I know you think you’re fat, But I’m here to tell you that,                                                                          Every inch of you is perfect from the bottom to the top Yeah, my momma she told me don’t worry about your size                                                                                                                                                                                             She says, boys they like a little more booty to hold at night                                                                                                      You know I won’t be no stick-figure, silicone Barbie doll, So, if that’s what’s you’re into Then go ahead and move along

Because you know I’m all about that bass, ‘Bout that bass, no treble
I’m all ’bout that bass, ’bout that bass, no treble I’m all ’bout that bass, ’bout that bass, no treble
I’m all ’bout that bass, ’bout that bass

Because you know I’m all about that bass, ‘Bout that bass, no treble
I’m all ’bout that bass, ’bout that bass, no treble I’m all ’bout that bass, ’bout that bass, no treble
I’m all ’bout that bass, ’bout that bass

Because you know I’m all about that bass, ‘Bout that bass, no treble
I’m all ’bout that bass, ’bout that bass, no treble I’m all ’bout that bass, ’bout that bass, no treble
I’m all ’bout that bass, ’bout that bass

The Translation

Because you know I’m around the bass, ‘Bout the bass, treble, I’m all’ bout the bass, ’bout the bass, treble.

I’m all ’bout the bass,’ bout no bass, treble, I’m all ’bout the bass,’

Yeah, it’s pretty clear bout the bass, I is not size two, but I can do it, shake it, shake like I ‘and m ‘Cause I boom boom all boys chases.

Because you know I’m bout that base, “I’m all about the base, there is no treble
I base that bout, ’bout the base’ bout all that bass’, the bass bout, “I’m more treble, but not all, there is no treble
That bout base ‘, the bass bout’ all I

Hey, I’m going to get the loot back to their skinny bitches
No, my mom told me not to worry about her, I just know I’m playing I think you fat, but I tell you that I am your size here perfectly all of you from the bottom to the top. Yeah, she inches The boys are a little more loot what’s next move if you go with him, you know I can not hold a night stick figure more silicon Barbie dolls, like so says

Because you know I’m bout that base, “I’m all about the base, there is no treble
I base that bout, ’bout the base’ bout all that bass’, the bass bout, “I’m more treble, but not all, there is no treble
That bout base ‘, the bass bout’ all I

Because you know I’m bout that base, “I’m all about the base, there is no treble
I base that bout, ’bout the base’ bout all that bass’, the bass bout, “I’m more treble, but not all, there is no treble
That bout base ‘, the bass bout’ all I

Because you know I’m bout that base, “I’m all about the base, there is no treble
I base that bout, ’bout the base’ bout all that bass’, the bass bout, “I’m more treble, but not all, there is no treble
That bout base ‘, the bass bout’ all I

The WTF

The human body is inherently disgusting. I know we can’t all be Adonis-like, but even at our most pure and fit, we’re still little more than flesh held together by oozing, bacteria covered cellophane with more damp, dark unmentionable places than on the face of the planet. I understand that this is yet another song proclaiming love for yourself no matter how you look, and how there is so much emphasis placed on image in any business these days, but particularly within the performing arts. That’s all well and good, and I applaud that part of the message, but I can’t applaud celebrating the fact – we’re all simply skeletons waiting to break free of our fleshy prison. The song also suggests than being bigger is better than skinny, so any message of self-respect goes out the window. It’s terrible that we think these things are important, but at the end of the day we like to look at things that our pretty so that our minds don’t implode at the horror of the truth.

Enough ranting, lets examine the lyrics. The original is typically modern pop poor pap with the shocking revelation that when she is talking about bass, she’s really talking about ass, which is ironic as that’s where you’d typically expect such crappy lyrics to come from. With the translation, it almost sounds as if someone who heard the song once, got drunk and angry, then began to sing and mock the song by randomly shouting bass and treble every few words. That, or a child trying to singalong and both failing and being better than the original. With the chorus being repeated so many times, you’d expect a lot of repetition, but oh no, my friends, that isn’t how online translation works. First, we get the standard ’bout that base, no treble’, but soon it changes to ‘treble, no bass’, until finally we get confused to the point that ‘bass’ becomes ‘base’ and the world folds in upon itself. The main verse hints at more thievery (caIl me, Michael Mann) as there appears to be some sort of robbery by a bunch of thin, unsavoury women, involving human trafficking and assorted toys. At least we know what this year’s top Christmas gift will be – Night Stick Figure Silicon Barbie! I have no wish to listen to the song now.

Go To Hell

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Alice Cooper is a God amongst men; Between Quickenings and Gatherings, in the eternal battle of immortality he is currently on top, his blade cutting ever deeper in Keith Richards who appears now to be more dust than man. Cooper, for those who don’t know him, or know anything about him beyond Poison is the stage persona of Vincent Furnier. Furnier was the singer for the old Alice Cooper band who started in the 60s, before deciding to take the name for himself and disband the group. For six decades now he’s transcended genres and had a hand in the creation and success of psychedelia, heavy rock, heavy metal, prog, punk etc etc. When I hit shuffle on my iPod, the live version of this came up front he Brutal Planet tour, but the song comes from the 70s record Alice Cooper Goes To Hell. It’s the title track and first track from that album, not a great song but a decent concept album. A semi-autobigraphical track, but based around the antics of the Steven character, the lyrics are essentially a list of crimes followed by the punishment refrain of ‘you can go to hell’. I’m sure there will be something hilarious once we do the old English-to Korean-to English translation.

The Original

For criminal acts and violence on the stage. For being a brat, Refusing to act your age
For all of the decent citizens you’ve enraged, You can go to Hell
For gambling and drinking alcohol constantly. For making us doubt our parents authority
For choosing to be a living obscenity, You can go to Hell
You’re something that never should have happened, You even make your Grandma sick

You’d poison a blind man’s dog and steal his cane
You’d gift wrap a leper, And mail him to your Aunt Jane
You’d even force-feed a diabetic a candy cane, You can go to Hell
You’re something that never should have happened, You even make your Grandma sick

For criminal acts and violence on the stage. For being a brat, Refusing to act your age
For all of the decent citizens you’ve enraged. You can go to Hell

The Translation

Please violence and criminal behavior on stage. If the guys, refuse to act your age
For all you raging decent citizen, you can go to hell
For gambling, drinking alcohol constantly. We doubt the authority of our parents for a decision
Choosing to live obscenity, you can go to hell
There’s something you should not have happened, you are hurting your grandmother

You will poison a dog of a blind man and steal his wand
Gift wrap is going to leprosy, and aunt Jane-mail him
You will even force a diabetic candy cane supply, you can go to hell
There’s something you should not have happened, you are hurting your grandmother

Please violence and criminal behavior on stage. If the guys, refuse to act your age
You have anger for all decent citizens. You can go to hell

The WTF

Ah ha, now this is interesting. It’s another example of the translation tool completely flipping a song’s meaning on its head; with the original, some outside force is judging Cooper (or us) for our actions, but with the translation it is Cooper (and us) throwing judgements back at the accusers. It’s almost like a lost Sex Pistols song – a manifsto before they came to their senses and did God Save The Queen instead. It advocates violence, crime, and disobeying social norms, it points the finger at the obscene lives of untrustworthy parents, and says that the birth of the parent was an affront to the grandparent. Ha, take that mum and dad!

Unfortunately, the second verse treads into risky territory and shows a remarkable amount of ignorance, claiming that blind people are magic and encouraging others, like an Aunt, to get in on the act. The final line is vague, seemingly damning everyone to an eternity of torment, fire, and brimstone – who has anger for all decent citizens? You? Me? Is decent a false concept? Please discuss.

Alice Cooper- Hey Stoopid

Hey Stoopid

After all the mostly poor efforts of the 80s and coming off the success of Trash, Alice Cooper released their 2nd best album (and probably my favourite) with Hey Stoopid. It brought the best of 80’s metal and hard rock (owing much to G’n’R) and mixed it with Alice’s trademark style, lyrics, and imagery. We had his heaviest album so far (this remained true until Brutal Planet), filled with thrash style guitars, bluesy but not over the top solos, some of his most memorable ballads, and some of his greatest anthems. Alice had a long history of blasting out classics teen and outsider anthems, from I’m Eighteen to School’s Out but here we have my favourite with Wind Up Toy. The most famous song is undoubtedly Feed My Frankenstein, made popular by its appearance in Wayne’s World but it is bookended by even better songs. With plenty of backing and guest musicians and Alice’s lyrical if not musical creativity in high gear, Hey Stoopid is one of the most underrated rock/metal albums of the early nineties.

`Hey Stoopid’ opens the album with a typically 80s fist pumping and chanting intro before dismembering the cheese and breaking out some heavy riffs and chords. It’s as if Alice was replying to all the rubbish hair rock and metal of the previous decade (which he had some part in) and blasting through it with his authentic punk and rebellious roots. Perhaps he wanted to regain some of the respect he may have lost during the decade at the same time as answering his critics, perhaps he just wanted to follow other bands of the time and make a no-nonsense heavy record. The lyrics speak of rehabilitation and making your own decisions without the backing of the crowd. Hardly the most original of sentiments, and indeed Alice said the same before. Slash and Satriani help out with guitar duties while Ozzy provides some backing vocals. Alice would repay the favour soon after by singing on Use Your Illusion.

`Love’s A Loaded Gun’ is a pseudo-ballad, a slightly softer song mixed with a dirty, bluesy sound. The themes of prostitution, love, betrayal, and murder/suicide are typical for Alice as he weaves another grime filled story. I prefer the lyrics to the music on this one. The acoustic verses give way to a louder chorus, each backed with some screaming guitars and Alice sings with trademark irony and venom.

`Snakebite’ opens with the sound of a rattlesnake before bursting into one of the albums most evil and vicious souding riffs. The heavy guitars continue throughout and the chorus is very catchy. Alice creates another character and weaves the story of a tattooed lover who may be murderously possessive. Snakebite is one of those songs for turning up loud when you’re driving at night with the hot air blasting in your face, and it wouldn’t be an Alice Cooper album without some snake references.

`Burning Our Bed’ is another song which features Joe Satriani and is probably the best ballad on offer. It begins a linked trilogy of songs (with the next two obviously) and speaks of the pain and recovery from lost love. It is highly atmospheric thanks to Alice’s whispery vocals and the guitar effects. The verses are nicely acoustic and build up to another catchy chorus. I particularly like the emotional bridge and guitar solo which help to prove that Alice is one of the most underrated writers of love songs (as well as every other type).

`Dangerous Tonight’ has an extended, ominous intro merging with Burning Our Bed and features some of the album’s best guitar work. Really if you’re a fan of flashy guitars without the self indulgence then this is an album for you. The organ/keyboard intro overlapped with the menacing guitars is one of the best introductions of any Alice song. The lyrics are quite darkly erotic with an undercurrent of S and M. The imagery is not overly imaginative but all serves to create a tense atmosphere and the solo and chorus is full of head-banging opportunity. In fact the solo here is one of my all time favourites, not because it is particularly skilful or lightning fast but because, like Leaves by The Gathering, it fits the song so well.

`Might As Well Be On Mars’ also has a brooding, atmospheric intro leading in from the previous song and ending the trilogy. I love the way the piano and thunder start together before leading us into a dark and lonely tale of stalking, self-delusion, and invisibility. I like the verse riff although this is another song where the lyrics are better than the music, even though the music is pretty great too. Alice acts out the story with his vocals as always, straining with desperation and irony. The middle section with its string section and synth somehow becomes anthemic even though it is a song about being alone showcasing his skills as a songwriter, before descending with the obligatory solo and an extended ending where the character fades away back into the dark alley and despair from whence he came.

`Feed My Frankenstein’ is a song dually by Alice and British band Zodiac Mindwarp and is noticeable not only for appearing in Wayne’s World but for it’s sexual lyrics and messed up guitar solo by Steve Vai. Nikki Sixx provides bass here adding to the overall sleazy feeling, and Alice sings in his most ugly, dirty style. Yet again the chorus is a sing-along affair, something which was lacking for most of Alice’s 80s albums. It tool Poison from Trash to remind the group where their greatest strengths lay, in writing crowd pleasers which were smarter than those the average band would churn out.

`Hurricane Years’ is one of the lesser songs on the album but is still pretty good. There are no poor songs on display, it’s just that this and another couple pale in comparison with the rest and sound a little too 80s. I rate the chorus here highly and the overall tempo is fast with some good shredding from Vinnie Moore.

`Little By Little’ has a great introduction continuing the ominous tone, but is let down by a cheesy chorus filled with background cheers and a slow and fairly uninspiring verse. The whole song sounds grimy enough and the sexual lyrics work well speaking of the games lovers play, but it just isn’t as strong as other songs.

`Die For You’ is another excellent little ballad marked by a wonderful guitar riff and some sweet and touching lyrics. The piano over the verses keeps the song light but as is the way with this album, when the chorus starts you want to jump around the room like a mad man. The song again speaks of recovering from a break up and the sheer amount of physical and emotion destruction it can wreak upon you. Alice manages to turn these emotions into a powerful and almost celebratory anthem proving again that he has always been a songwriting force to be reckoned with.

`Dirty Dreams’ is the third less memorable song for me, the melodies aren’t as exciting as others and again the chorus seems a bit cheap. Again the sleaze meter is high showing that this incarnation of Alice was a rather dirty old man. Despite the Sex Pistols introduction it becomes just an average rocker.

`Wind Up Toy’ may well be my favourite Alice Cooper song ever, it is definitely my favourite (what I would class as) anthem ever, and it is one of the best endings to any album I can think of. With it’s scary sounding child’s toy introduction giving away to one of the great riffs, from Alice’s vocals from the point of view of a possibly sociopathic child (yet getting us to side with him), from the themes of madness, anger, loneliness, and a desire to be both free and included, to the excellent chorus and terrifying ending it is genius. The character of Steven re-appears (who all Alice fans will be familiar with), the lyrics are touching, child-like, and imaginative, the drums make you want to pucnh the air no matter how terrible a notion that is, and the guitars scream all over the place, but in all the right places. The ending to the song is one of my favourites, haunting, funny, brilliant- everything Alice should be remembered for.

So, if you enjoy hard rock and metal, or if you’re sick of all the current trend of indie nobodies and bland, unimaginative screamo bands then you should like this. Even if you are the sort who smirks at the slightest mention of Alice Cooper with an (un) knowing irony you should listen to this with an open mind- if you are a genuine music lover and not a fashionista you will find something you like here. It may not have the invention of early Alice, it may lack some of the smarts of his biggest albums, but it is full of energy, great ideas, and sublime tunes. Get it now.

As always, feel free to comment- agree, disagree, share any memories of the album which you may have.

Bands I’ve Seen Live: A

I’m going to organise this by first letter, starting with A:

Alabama 3: I saw these boys at Glastonbury on a scorching June morning. It almost set the scene for a day/weekend of debauchery with their funky rock/country drunken musings finding a happy fit with many fellow revelers. Of course I only knew of them through The Sopranos, but it was a laid back morning set which I could appreciate from a distance, whilst my first (fourth) pear cider of the morning washed down my breakfast.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alabama_3

Alabama 3
Alabama 3

Ash: Everyone from Northern Ireland has seen Ash live, most of us at least 8 times. It’s not that they’re that good, it’s just that they were all we had. They still perform several hundred shows here each year, but they haven’t had a hit in a long time. I’m doing them misservice- they are still the best band this unholy land have produced in a long time. Anyone who mentions Snow Patrol and their sub Coldplay embarassments will get a slap. Snow Patrol are as worthless as a terrorist. Ash knew how to make a nice pop/punk/rock single and with classics like Goldfinger and Girl From Mars, they always put on a good show, complete with more drunken singalongs.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ash_(band)

Ash
Ash

Acid Mothers Temple: Now we’re talking. I saw these guys in The Pavillion- a Belfast pub/bar/club- the perfect place to witness a bunch of crazy Japanese post-hippies play their wacky jazz/rock/psychadelic fusions and close the night by inserting a guitar into the rafters. A great collection of songs had me dancing groin to groin (face) with the band by myself, whilst the rest of the crowd sat bemused at the farce unravelling before them. Seriously, what did you expect from a band with that name? Releasing a meagre 3 albums every year, you should catch them while you can. And, like me, dance along with a bottle of the cheapest red wine you can find, swooning for 18 minutes of ‘Pink Lady Lemonade’, possibly the greatest song ever (whilst drunk on said wine).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acid_Mothers_Temple

Nightman feeling the ill effects of proximity to wine and stars
Nightman feeling the ill effects of proximity to wine and stars

Alice Cooper: I’ve been an Alice Cooper fan since I could first walk. Trash was the first album I ever bought. I quickly grabbed his back catalogue and swallowed every word, and aside from Manic Street Preachers, GNR, and Michael Jackson, no-one else has had such an impact on my own songwriting. I never thought I would ever get to see him, but this year, finally, I got the chance. He was only a support act to a band who will remain unnamed until I get to that letter, but he blew everyone else off the stage with a mini show. Everyone shold have Killer and Hey Stoopid in their collection, showing the two most prominent sides of the man’s oevre- the early progressive blues style, and the later metal leanings.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alice_Cooper

Alice
Alice

Who is the best artist beginning with ‘A’ that you have seen live? Where and when was it? Which artist did you want to see but never had the chance?

Now updated with Setlists!

Alice Cooper – Odyssey Arena 2011

The Black Widow

Brutal Planet

I’m Eighteen

Billion Dollar Babies

No More Mr Nice Guy

Is It My Body

I’ll Bite Your Face Off

Cold Ethyl

Feedin My Frankenstein

Clones

Poison

Wicked Young Man

Killer

I Love The Dead

School’s Out

Elected