Thursday, 31 December 2009

2010 is going to be the big one...

This time of year tends to be dominated by dissections of the year just gone, written by journalists who seem to think everyone apart from them has been in a coma for the past 12 months. But not here! No, I thought it would be better to tell you what is happening next year instead. Predictions? Not quite – I have it on good authority the following is 99.9% likely to happen within the year.

January: BBC Sound of 2010 is announced and my choice will either be shockingly overlooked or will win. If the later I will spend the following 12 months squirming as my choice embarrasses me by releasing a less than satisfactory album and saying stupid things on Twitter like: “Oh, highlight of my career - I’m going to be in Grazia next week.”

February: Typically the coldest and most depressing month of the year but not for 2010. A freak heat wave will prompt a revolution in British music with Mark E Smith releasing a calypso influence album, and Morrissey teaming up with H from Steps to produce an record called Everything is Great. Charlie Brooker is seen walking out of the Apple store on Regent Street, smiling.

March: After Fun February things take a turn for the worse when Simon Cowell chokes on his own smugness and dies. The nation is officially in mourning.

April: 175,000 people return their Glastonbury tickets when they realise that Michael Eavis’ ‘festival to remember’ may not include one of their favourite bands headlining on the Pyramid stage. Billy Bragg announces a gig in the leftfield tent with a special guest appearance from Nick Griffin. 175,000 people buy their tickets back again.

May: I go to Camden Crawl and have an absolutely amazing time.

June: At Glastonbury Michael Eavis gets wasted, storms on stage and tells Bono he’s a cunt. The audience walks out in protest. They all go up to The Park where they suddenly realise all the best stuff has been happening anyway. Emily Eavis is heard muttering ‘I told you so’.

July: It’s not as hot as we thought it might be and it rains an awful lot. Everyone acts surprised.

August: Lilly Allen moans about something on Twitter and then goes out and buys some more boots and panties. Everyone blames Stephen Fry.

September: Mercury Music Prize nominations are announced and everyone complains how meaningless they are but then goes out and buys the winning album anyway. The following week nobody can remember who won.

October: To mark the first anniversary of Stephen Gately’s death Jan Moir releases a record in aid of the Terrence Higgins Trust called I’m not homophobic (some of my best friends are gay).

November: Sufjan Stevens wins X-Factor

December: I run out of blog ideas, consider quitting the blogosphere and then decide against it. I write a review of the best of 2010 (making little reference to my predictions in 2009).

Happy New Year everyone, see you in 2010!!

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Christmas songs are rubbish

Chances are over the last few weeks you have been to a shopping mall and heard one of the following:

Cliff Richard – Mistletoe and Wine

Wham – Last Christmas

Slade – Merry Christmas Everybody

Wizzard – I Wish it Could be Christmas Everyday

I have a theory about these songs. I believe they have been specially designed by multi-national corporations to be so insipid that eventually they breakdown your brain at molecular level and cause you to buy everything insight regardless of whether anyone in your family will actually want it. They drill irritatingly catchy choruses into you like a Scientologist until you actually believe you are having a good time. Of course the reality is you’re stuck in a queue as long as the Great Wall of China and you’ll have to remortgage your house to pay off the debts you have surmounted.

What really makes me gag is that the people who wrote these awful tunes must be absolutely raking in the royalties. This financial benefit seems to be limited to a select few whose tasteless tunes are rolled out year upon year. Nobody new has been allowed on this A-List for years now.

If someone else was allowed on the list I wondered who the contenders might be. Surely first in the queue should be the great Bob Dylan who recently released an album of Christmas songs called Christmas in the Heart. Bob would be there to save us, surely?

Wrong! I’ve only heard clips of it, but to be honest that’s enough. Dylan’s voice has disintegrated so much now that he sounds like a drunk staggering around the streets of Soho on Christmas Eve at the split second before he pukes in a wheelie bin.

Julian Casablancas has also had a stab, but it’s not much better. I wish It Was Christmas Today is a cover of a Saturday Night Live sketch. Casablancas takes the mildly amusing sketch, gets out a big old iron and makes it flatter than the hills of East Anglia. Maybe something got lost in translation when crossing the Atlantic, but for me, if you’re going to do a comedy song then, well, you have to be a comedian and not a moody rock star.

The only Christmas tune that is worth anything is Fairytale in New York by the Pogues, featuring Kirsty McColl. I’m a sucker for a song with a story, and this is one of the best. You can see and feel the characters McColl and McGowan create, and the lyrics pack a punch too. My favourite is probably: I could have been someone/Well so could anyone. So mean, so cruel, so true!

If only there could be more proper miserable Christmas songs like this then maybe I would truly enjoy Christmas!

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

London I love you but I also need my space

So I have left my darling London and like the bird, flown south for the winter. Of course it is always exciting to be somewhere new and warm, but as much as London gets me down sometimes it will always be my home and I will always be glad to get back after a break away.

People not from London find this strange. It’s dirty, its crowded and everyone shoots each other. How can you possibly like that? I agree that’s not so great, however the thing that makes me love my city so much is the music scene. I’ve traveled around the world and found so few places that have anything like it.

Someone said to me once that they’d rather be a big fish in a small pond than a small fish in a big pond. What they fail to realise is that in smaller cities and towns there aren’t that many ponds. In London everyone can be a fish because we’ll swim even in the smallest puddles, and whatever time or day they’ll always someone who will come.

The fact that there are so many puddles means that you get a huge diversity of music. You can go to a rockabilly burlesque night on Tuesday and be at a gay bangra night on Wednesday. And there is always something new happening. Some of it is pretentious art school nonsense, but some of it is different and exciting.

So yes I have left the filth and fury for a few weeks in favour of some space and sunshine. When I get back however there will hopefully be a small collection of gig tickets waiting for me and I will give a little girly squeal of excitement at the new season of exciting live music before me.

My five favourite music venues in London:

  1. Camden Crawl – every nook and cranky in the north London suburb is turned into a space for music. The festival has provided the break-through for some of the biggest names in music. I can’t friggin wait!
  2. The Sun and 13 Cantons – a tiny room below the pub in Soho has hosted many a great party. Small enough to be intimate and big enough to build up a crowd. The only downside is the DJ bit is behind the bar and I once got a bit tipsy behind the decks and smashed a pile of pint glasses in the middle of my set!
  3. Bardens Boudoir – a reliable and cheep night out where you can catch a selection of new bands. Always a good crowd, especially on the Gypsy Hotel nights when some crazy burlesque action can normally be caught.
  4. The Lock Tavern – the Camden pub, owned by Mr Monkey Mafia himself, can host some very big names in very small rooms. Even if you don’t get in on one of those nights you can usually find something else that’s definitely worth a listen. Arrive early to avoid very long and disappointing queues.
  5. Brixton Academy – there are very few places I can say I’ve been going to for over 15 years, but the academy is one of them. It’s got some ridiculous corporate name now, which I chose to ignore. What’s important is that it still hosts some of the very best bands from all over the world. And although a sizeable venue it never loses its intimacy.