Saturday, December 25, 2010

A Final Thought On Merry Of Horror

hi chaps,

Merry Christmas everybody! It's after midnight on Christmas day, and I am watching the Top Of The Pops episode of the day, including the Christmas number one, which is Matt Cardle, X Factor Winner with 'Many Of Horror'.

Previously, on my blog, I have shared various opinions on this topic, I would like to add one final point which has only just occurred to me. The video tells the story of Matt Cardle auditioning for the X Factor, going to the Judges' houses, etc.

That's what inspires me to think, in this context., the song can be seen to be a metaphor for the singers' relationship with the contest itself.  A Dystfunctional relationship which will only end in pain for Matt Cardle? You decide.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

VIDEO: Breton 'December'

Hotly tipped for 2011, this lot rocked In The City this year, and promise great things with their indie-dance hybrid sound.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

VIDEO: The XX 'Night Time'

This version of Night Time is incredible, with a video performance partially caught on surveillance cameras adding to the dark, moody atmosphere.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Noah and The Whale : Wild Thing

So, the wonderful Noah And The Whale return with this wistful tune. A wonderful mix of 80s influences including Dire Straits and Depeche Mode, it continues the introspective mood of their previous album The First Days Of Spring, augmenting it with electro elements.

  Noah And The Whale - Wild Thing
- Watch more Videos at Vodpod.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Some Thoughts on 'When We Collide ' / Many Of Horror

Last night saw the culmination of the UK's The X Factor TV music show competition, in which 27 painter decorator Matt Cardle beat off competition from Liverpudlian Rebecca Ferguson and teen boyband One Direction to win a £1 million recording contract, with Simon Cowell's Syco record label.

What was fascinating was the choice of debut release, something which has become a source of great contention in recent years, given the X Factors' domination of the prestigious Christmas number one single chart spot. Last year Rage Against The Machine successfully beat of competition from X Factor winner Joe McElderry to take their 1993 hit 'Killing In The Name' to the Xmas number one slot. It was a protest vote from the country against X Factor, Syco and pop blandless hegemony, and sent an important message, which the makers appear, to have a lesser extent, to have heeded.

This year the three finalists had individual songs to be released in the event of winning. Rebecca Ferguson got Duffy's 'Different Dreamer', boys One Direction got Alphaville's 'Forever Young', and winner Cardle got Biffy Clyro's 'Many Of Horror'. It's the last which is most fascinating to me, especially as there's a strong chance it will be at number one for Christmas next week.

Firstly, the producers have renamed the song 'When We Collide', as opposed to 'Many Of Horror'. It's a shame to see the artistic integrity of the original song compromised by tampering with it in this way, but the original's title has a strange, archaic quality which sounds vaguely Shakespearean, rather than contemporary English. Also, 'Horror' isn't exactly Christmassy. Personally, I'm always on the side of the artist, though, so I'd go with the original every time. That's probably why I'm not in a mansion sipping champagne, though.

Secondly, the choice of a Biffy Clyro song is for me a response to accusations of a lack of credibility and cool which have chipped away at the show. Biffy Clyro are a respected indie rock band, who have paid their dues, and the song has been written out of that context, that reality. They have earned to right to sing it, and in appropriating such a song, the X Factor will inevitably appropriate some of the indie glamour that goes with it, even if Biffy lose some credibility by association. I'm sure they'll not too much sleep over it, particularly when the massive royalty cheques start rolling in (anecdotally, I remember a mate getting £40 for a single play on a radio station of his song via PRS. Imagine that x £100,000 for all the poxy little radio stations in the country playlisting the song over Xmas, and into the new year!). They may even gain a new fanbase from it.

Then there are the visceral, gutsy lyrics. 'Many Of Horror' is the take of a violent, turbulent love / hate relationship. From the first person perspective, the teller of the story knows that he belongs with his opposite number, but that they are doomed to mistreat and torment one another. It's incredibly dark, particularly a Christmas song, to have the lyrics "I'll take a bruise I know you're worth it / When you hit me, hit me hard". One wonders what would have happened if a woman such as Rebecca Ferguson were singing it - the implication of domestic violence against a polite, even timid woman would be distasteful.

I'm sure the anthemic quality of the song,  power of the tune, and the credibility of Biffy were a great combination, which is what made the final decision for the producers though. The general public, and by extension, decision makers, often don't care about lyrics, which often leads to history being littered with examples of songs inappropriately being appropriated. Look at the way 'Born In The USA' was used by Republicans in the 80s, even though it's a critique of the Vietnam war and blind patriotism. Or the way David Cameron likes 'Eton Rifles' and The Smiths.

In the end, though, all this debate is a testimony to the fact that, When We Collide / Many Of Horror, or whatever it's called, is first and foremost, a great song.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Top Ten albums of 2010

Dear chaps and ladies, boys and gals, I think it's about time for us to look back over the best albums of the year!

Here's my top 10 of 2010 *queues The Wizzard circa Top Of The Pops 1985*

1. Caitlin Rose - Own Side Now.
2. Arcade Fire - The Suburbs
3. Kanye West - My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
4. Foals  - Total Life Forever
5. The National -High Violet
6. The Like - Release Me
7. Janelle Monae - Archandroid, pts 2 and 3
8. Warpaint - The Fool
9. Plan B - Defamation of Strickland Banks
10. Mark Ronson - Record Collection.

(all links are to Spotify)

Honourable mentions, well, there are so many. Cee-Lo Green's 'The Lady Killer', Beach House's 'Teen Dream' (which I didn't take to initially at all, but I'm now re-appraising, now that it seems to be in a lot of year-end lists), Frighten Rabbits' 'Winter Of Mixed Drinks', and far too many others to mention. Erm, ok, Darwin Deez.

I was left feeling I could / should have listened to loads more, but I've only got two ears, and I have my fingers in several other pies, including TV journalism, tech, and film. I was fascinated that The Drums debut seemed to drop out of peoples' awareness, which confirmed what I believed previously - that they're a band who were built on hype. I am left doubting if there'll be much interest when they return, given that the interest in them was largely manufactured by a small portion of the media.

Kanyes' record was fascinating. Hugely overblown, full of celebrity cameos, but, crucially, it DID deliver. It was the antithesis of stripped-back '808s and Heartbreaks' in production, and perhaps a response to the doubters in the fallout from his public humiliation following the Taylor Swift debacle. 

Caitlin Rose's debut was authentic, with beatiful songwriting, and tasteful 70s country-pop production, a true delight. Janelle Monae's record became one of the most talked about records of the year in media circles, and I guess people were impressed by the ideas and inventiveness of the whole archandroid concept, the variety of the songs, and the quality. r'n'b is often very conservative, and this was the opposite, harking back to the work of Stevie Wonder, or Marvin Gaye's 'What's Going On' in being a concept album in the soul genre.

Speaking of soul concept albums, the Defamation of Strickland Banks was another from Forrest Gate rapper Plan B, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It is one of the most commercial albums in my list, and certainly inspired by the likes of Amy Winehouse and other contemporary takes on Motown, but I couldn't care less, the sheer quality of the songs overrides all other considerations.

Anyway, enjoy Xmas, and have a listen, if you haven't already!

Rayland Baxter : I Do Bad Things VIDEO

hi chaps,

So, it's coming up to Xmas, so Seasons Greetings. I recently stumbled across this unsigned artist from Tennessee courtesy of Caitlin Rose, who I interviewed earlier in the year, on her Facebook.

Rayland Baxter is a solo singer songwriter, and this blues tale of badness and wrong love is truly astonishing.