Tuesday, July 26, 2005

A few random things...

So, what do we think?

Good suit and Converse, could lose the coat. (Gratuitous Spaced quote - "I think you should burn it, cos if you lose it, you might find it again...") I can't believe I'm discussing the Doctor's outfit... what a difference Russell T makes...

In other news, watched Fantastic Four yesterday. What a great piece of fluff and nothingness! This is not clever or making any statement like the wonderful X-Men movies or (the less wonderful but for some reason rated higher) Spiderman but it's great fun. I think it's had mixed reviews, and I can see why when you compare it to the other comic book films that have come out over the last few years, but it's probably a better *family* film. For me, it was actually Chris Evans (Johnny Storm) who was the star. If was wasn't playing the Human Torch, I'd say he lit up the screen...

And finally: Lost. It's 'coming soon', as we've been told often enough. I've seen a good few episodes of this, and I can recommend it. If you're anything like me, you'll get hooked, but you won't have a clue whether it's actually good or not....

Til next time.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Mercury Music Prize 2005

Bloc Party – 'Silent Alarm'
Hard-Fi –'Stars Of CCTV'
Kaiser Chiefs – 'Employment'
MIA – 'Arular'
The Magic Numbers – 'The Magic Numbers'
Coldplay – 'X&Y'
The Go! Team – 'Thunder, Lightning Strike'
Antony And The Johnsons – 'I Am A Bird Now'
KT Tunstall – 'Eye To The Telescope'
Maximo Park – 'A Certain Trigger'
Seth Lakeman – 'Kitty Jay'
Polar Bear – 'Held On The Tips Of Fingers'
(nme.com)

So we have the big hitters - Coldplay (yawn...) and Kaiser Chiefs (bookies favourite, and worth it...).

The breaking-through-ers - Maximo Park (quite dull...), Bloc Party (words can't describe my dislike for this band...), Hard-Fi (see Bloc Party), The Go! Team (lots of fun) and KT Tunstall (promising on Jools, disappointing since).

The hyped-to-the-hilt-ers - Magic Numbers (gorgeous) and MIA (probably better than I give her credit for).

The token-other-genres-ers - Seth Lakeman (who knows) and Polar Bear (ditto).

....and the dark horse, in my opinion, Antony and the Johnsons. Maybe this is wishful thinking, but I've a little feeling they've got a chance. The favourites Franz Ferdinand won last year, which may prove unlucky for the Kaisers. It'd be a shame, because Employment's a surprisingly strong album. But song-writerly values are big this year, which hint towards Antony, and, actually maybe more probable, the Magic Numbers. We'll see.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

The 'new' Top Of The Pops.

Admittedly, my hopes weren't high for this all-new Top Of The Pops, but that was truly dire. Phil Jupitus looked openly embarrassed to be there (and so he should be, his Breakfast show on BBC 6Music is excellent, however) and the standard of acts was as awful as we've come to expect from recent years. Since the NME put The Strokes on their cover in 2001 there's been a plethora of great bands breaking into the mainstream but somehow this has managed to pass TOTP right by. But, hey, at least we've got old footage of a sub-standard Madness song.

And Bananarama. Oh dear oh dear oh dear. It looked like a French and Saunders sketch. What else is there to say?

Now, some might ask if I felt heartened by the fact that singer-songwriter James Blunt has both number one spots, for his album Back To Bedlam and single You're Beautiful. Well, I'll admit that it's a pretty huge, and, let's face it, bizarre achievement. But no, I can't be heartened by it. People who've bought it will feel proud of themselves for buying 'proper' music and put it next to their Dido album. *shudder* Yes, I know I'm a music snob, but I'm not gonna change. I just wanna educate these people, you know? They're eager to learn, they've made the first step. But, please, step away from that new Stephen Fretwell album, and discover that holding a guitar and looking slightly bored isn't everything there is to songwriting. Realise that talented songwriters actually write tunes - whether that's Martha Wainwright, Dave Grohl or McFly.

Wait, what was I talking about? Oh Top Of The Pops. Rubbish.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Anna in 'not wholly supporting something' shocker

NME.com tells me that a free 'London United' gig will take take place this Saturday to show solidarity and to remember those who lost their lives or loved ones last Thursday. Now, of course, I love this idea - if there's one thing London can and has done better than the rest of the world for decades, it's music. But there's only a point in doing this if the gig itself is something that London can be proud of. It's a shame for this to be rushed and half-baked, but, with the uninspiring line up which is confirmed, it looks like that's what London is going to get. I hope I'm proved wrong because I don't like to be down on something that clearly has its heart in the right place. Maybe it'll be Londoners who make this gig great, and worthwhile. In fact, I have no doubt they, we will.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Quasi-intellectualism at its worst coming up...

Ok, below is a classic example of my tendency to enthuse before I think. But you love me for it.

I'm still excited about this Complete Works fest, but 'Welcome To Bardworld', a piece in the Guardian G2 today gives the whole thing a different slant. I was particularly interested in Gary Taylor's perspective, because he's the one criticising the festival. Here's a sample:

Wouldn't you feel a bit cheated if the box of chocolates labelled "English literature" contained only one flavour? The triumvirate of Chaucer, Milton, and Shakespeare has become, increasingly, a Stratford dictatorship. The RSC Festival promises to produce, not only 30-odd plays, but a white paper telling the government how to change the way Shakespeare should be taught in schools. But who has the same kind of resources, or authority, to tell the government how to teach Virginia Woolf? Toni Morrison? Aphra Behn?

And who is going to tell us, or show us, how to perform and teach the rest of the Renaissance? It would be much easier - and undoubtedly more revelatory - to produce a festival of the Complete Works of Marlowe, or Jonson, or Webster, or Middleton. Or Corneille, for that matter. Or Calderon.


I see what Taylor is saying, of course I do. Nick Hornby says in 31 Songs that The Beatles have 'hoovered up' the 60's, that they have become the 60's. In much the same way, Shakespeare has become Renaissance theatre. Scrap that, Shakespeare has become theatre full stop. But, you know, this is no freak accident. The Beatles weren't just good, they were and are important and the same goes for Shakespeare. They dwarf their contemporaries in pretty much every field. Of course some bands and songwriters have written better songs than some Beatles songs. Of course some playwrights have written better plays than some Shakespeare plays, but when you look at bodies of work, they can't be beat.

The big comparison with Shakespeare is always Marlowe, of course, and I as a literature student am constantly being told that Marlowe could have been a better playwright than Shakespeare had he lived. Well, he didn't so that's that. All we can do is look at what he did produce. I'm nowhere near an expert on Shakespeare, and I've only read/seen Edward II and Doctor Faustus by Marlowe, but I haven't seen the quality and beauty of writing in either of those plays which we just expect from Shakespeare. I know they have different writing styles - the 'mighty line' that Marlowe used isn't made for poetry - but... well in the end it's that age-old matter of 'personal choice' of course.

Despite all I've written, Taylor's point can't be ignored. Sometimes we concentrate on Shakespeare cos that's easier. We know what to expect, and we know it'll get bums on seats (not that I am AT ALL against that - use Shakespeare, use Hollywood stars, do anything to get people into the theatre the first time and they might just come back... rant over). But we've got to challenge ourselves too, and that means branching out once in a while.

Too excited about this...!

Yes, my obsessions with theatre, and a certain 16th century playwright have been pandered to by the Royal Shakespeare Company. Because between 2006-7 they, and visiting companies, will be performing every play, sonnet, poem written (or co-written ;)) by the Bard. Sir Ian McKellen as Lear? They've got it. A musical version of the Merry Wives of Windsor? No problem. You want Dame Judi to sing in it?! Fair enough.

Of course, performing the Complete Works of Shakespeare is something the brilliant, and hugely undervalued Reduced Shakespeare Company do every night. But we can't all have their genius.

www.rsc.org.uk
www.reducedshakespeare.com

Friday, July 08, 2005

London

Just a note to say my thoughts are with the blogging community in London. All the best.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

This'll be fun

I just heard on BBC FiveLive that Midge Ure will be supported by the wonderful Eddie Izzard on piano during 'Vienna' at tonight's Murrayfield gig. Fantastic!

An eternal optimist has a good week

Man, what an emotional few days. I'm afraid I've gotta admit that I've cried an embarrassing number of times... and it was the Fresh Prince who was the first person to bring me to tears. Go figure.

Ok, Live 8. Leesa avoided it , but I'm naturally inclined to support these kinds of events; I find it hard to be cynical. Personally, I think I was justified in my optimism - the concert has got the generation forever labeled "apathetic" talking and more important, thinking. I know, cos I'm part of it. Maybe that's not enough. We'll know by Friday. And, you know, it was pretty good as a gig, too. There was an over-emphasis on older musicians - where were Franz Ferdinand, for example, one of the biggest bands behind Coldplay - but when that means Macca singing Helter Skelter is involved, who can complain? And I'm not a U2 fan, far from it, but their set really was awesome. Saint Bob? Well, I don't know, but he has my respect. 'Cept for that awful Golden Circle of course... bad call.

And the 2012 successful bid. Again, I just can't be cynical. I've followed this bid from the beginning, and I'm over-joyed that we've got the games in 2012. Well done guys.

And now it's all eyes on Gleneagles. It's a simple message we've all got - don't let us down.

www.makepovertyhistory.org