I seem to have a job. How did that happen?

currently playing: Propaganda — Jewel


He’s in the House. He’s voting. But he won’t enter the chamber. Which seems a little gutless, to be frank.

currently playing: BBC Parliament

It's You're Wrong Night!

Wow. This is an impressive article indeed. It starts off badly (‘The 80s comeback is upon us! Oh, it’s been around since 1998’ bit in paragraphs two and three is particularly spectacular), and heads downhill fast as DeRogatis lists his Top Eight reasons why the 1980s sucked. Perhaps, in the spirit of things, we’ll take things in order:

  1. Over-production

    It’d be wrong to say that there weren’t over-produced songs in the 1980s. But of course, you could say the same about any period in pop music; Paul McCartney famously hated Phil Spector’s lavish work on Let It Be, and Britney Spears’ Hit Me Baby One More Time is Production Gone Wild. It’s definitely not exclusive to the 1980s. If you’re looking for subtle production from twenty years ago, then how about Trevor Horn’s production on ABC’s All of My Heart, or New Order’s The Perfect Kiss, or anything from Dexy’s Don’t Stand Me Down album?

    And besides, Born In The U.S.A. is fantastic, and the production sound is a big part of why it’s great.
  2. Bombast

    Er, okay. Not entirely sure what he’s getting at here, but to be honest, I prefer reach-for-the-skies vocals as opposed to Current Indie Band Attempts To Copy Jeff Buckley’s Vocals (Badly)…
  3. The dearth of social conscience

    Oh, come on. Even granting that the writer is American, and so can be possibly forgiven for not knowing about things like Red Wedge, the campaigns against Clause 28 (reason number 2353 of why I will not vote Conservative), Heaven 17’s Fascist Groove Thang, Simple Mind’s Belfast Child, the Free Nelson Mandela concert, or the gender politics of the New Romantic movement, two words completely destroy DeRogatis’ argument: Live Aid.
  4. Sexism

    Because, of course, there was no sexism in the 1960s or 1970s. Oh no. And we’ve complete purged ourselves of it now. Ho ho.
  5. The advent of digital synthesizers
  6. The dominance of early drum machines

    New Order. The Art of Noise. Pet Shop Boys. Frankie Goes To Hollywood. I don’t need to say much more, except that these are four acts that couldn’t exist without 1980s technology, and all four changed pop for the better.
  7. The fashions

    I have been known to wear mascara, so I recuse myself from this entry (except to say: Adam Ant! Kevin Rowland! Haircut 100! Okay, strike that last one).
  8. MTV

    Yeah. Yeah. Image-over-substance. But at least they played videos back in the 1980s. Also, given that America has never had a unifed radio network like Britain, it was the first time that all of America’s youth could experience something similar to Radio 1; a shared playground that spread British bands and hip-hop all over the nation. And for that, MTV can be forgiven for many sins.

There is good in all decades of pop music; a blanket dismissal of ten years simply because you didn’t like a few songs is silly.

currently playing: Altered Images – Happy Birthday


They may be a undemocratic, anachronistic sort, but sometimes, you just can’t help having fuzzy feelings towards the House of Lords.

currently playing: Annie — Me Plus One

Presenting…The Most Disturbing Picture On The Internet!

currently playing: Longpigs — On and On

It Wasn't Always Like Links

Part of my pessimism about the chart last week stemmed from Radio 1’s constant tinkering with the Top 40 Chart Show. You would have thought that it would be quite easy: you start the show at 40, and the play all the songs until you get to 1. That’s not good enough for Radio 1, it seems, as they want it to be an all-round entertainment show. Gah. The latest version of this debuted yesterday, with new DJs JK and Joel (imagine Chris Moyles, but even less appealing. I know, I didn’t think it was possible either). I didn’t have the heart to subject myself to the show, but one William Swygart did, and he reports back in Stylus magazine. The short version: it was so bad, he’s terminating his two-year-old Top 40 column with immediate effect.

(by the way: Stereophonics at #1, Annie at #50. RAGE.)

Lots of cute icons!

Notepad Invaders!

A blog that points to good free fonts on the web.

DIY Lazer Tag. The Internet is a glorious thing sometimes.

currently playing: Kylie Minogue – Made Of Glass

Oh My God

Part 1 of 12??? Somebody needs to upload that to a torrent server, and quickly…

currently playing: Electronic — Getting Away With It

Music Musings

I was in HMV yesterday, and I saw that Warners/R.E.M. have rereleased all their post-Document albums with an extra DVD. The DVD has a DVD-Audio mix of the album, lyrics (horror!), plus documentaries about the making of the record. How annoying is that? I imagine that most people who are going to be interested in that sort of thing are probably likely to be R.E.M. fans in the first place, so there’s a good chance that they already have all the albums. If they sold a separate DVD set with the documentaries on, that’d be fine (and if they do, let me know, because I can’t find it), but otherwise, it just smacks of Warners ripping fans off. Shock, eh?

(what’s worse is that the DVDs themselves are a missed opportunity. Shouldn’t they include the music videos for the singles from each album? Oh, but that’d cut into the sales of the video DVD, and we can’t have that, can we?)

In other news, it looks as if the new Annie single, Heartbeat is going to flop this week. It’s #50 in the mid-week chart, which is depressing when you consider that you can sell about five hundred copies and get a Top 40 hit these days. I have a feeling that Anniemal is going to end up as one of the lost pop albums of this decade. I think the singles chart isn’t long for this world, even with the merging with the download figures. Did you know that Moby and R.E.M. had singles out this week? Do they? Elvis’ ghost stalks the chart, with embarrassingly low Top 5 sales every week, as the record company scrambles to outrun the public domain. Will EMI do the same when The Beatles’ recordings become public property?

The singles market is doomed. But what will replace it? Record companies make most of their money from albums, yes, but that’s mainly for established acts. Where will the next generation of pop come from?

currently playing: Annie – Heartbeat

Education In Texas!

I’m sure you’ll agree that it’s a good thing that children in Iraq are no longer taught from textbooks that proclaim Saddam is a great leader. Meanwhile, in that great state of Texas, a new health textbook has been approved for the eastern part of the state. Shall we look at some of the changes between the old edition and the new edition? Why, yes, let’s.

The sex hormones your body produces may make you interested in romantic relationships with others. Friendships and dating relationships help you prepare for adult relationships.

Seems reasonable enough. But no! It needed to be corrected!

The sex hormones your body produces may make you interested in romantic relationships with the opposite sex. Friendships and dating relationships help you prepare for stable marital commitment.

bangs head on the table. But wait, it gets worse:

If you discuss the issue of homosexuality in class, discuss it respectfully. Be aware that someone in your class may be homosexual or related to someone who is homosexual, or have a friend who is homosexual.

If you discuss the issue of homosexuality in class, be aware that Texas law rejects homosexual marriage. Students can therefore maintain that homosexuality and heterosexuality are not moral equivalents, without being charged with “hate speech”.

Aside from making me want to cover all of Texas with deadly VX gas (I know what you’re thinking: “Glass or plastic?!” I hear you cry. Well, glass is probably more biodegradable), does the paragraph even make any sort of logical sense? Because Texas rejects gay marriage, you can say anything you like?

Surveys indicate that 3 to 10 percent of the population is gay. Opinions vary on why some people are straight, some are bisexual, and others are gay.

The idea that as many as three people in a class of thirty could be gay was obviously too controversial for a Texan class, so it was replaced with:

No one knows for sure why homosexuals, lesbians and bisexuals as a group are more prone to self-destructive behaviors like depression, illegal drug use, and suicide.

Well, if that’s true (which I suspect isn’t, to be honest), how about this for a stab in the dark: Because scum like you want to trample on their rights, harass them, assault them, and ideally, you’d like to see them wiped off the face of the planet? I know I’d certainly depressed if the ruling Government thought I was immoral and something to be stamped out.

And, if you’ll excuse me for stooping to clichéd comparisons, it reminds me too much of this question from a 1930s German textbook:

A modern bomber can carry 1,800 incendiaries. How long is the path along which it can distribute those bombs if it drops a bomb every second at a speed of 250 kilometres and hour? How far apart are the craters?

Texas: You useless, cretinous morons.

currently playing: Camera Obscura – Books Written For Girls

We apologise for the interruption of this show

Yes, the web server fell over AGAIN. Sigh. Does anybody know any of a reasonably priced webhost that offers a 100Mb package plus Perl/CGI suport? I think I’ll be moving as soon as I can afford it…

currently playing: Rainer Maria – Ears Ring