Simple Pleasures

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Happy Happy 30th Birthday to the wonderful Now That’s What I Call Music!

Now 39. That was my first, what was yours?

I remember, vividly, being in town on a Saturday with my mum and dad. It was April 1998 and I’d got some money from my birthday (15th if you’re wondering) and at the grand old age of 9 I decided I wanted a CD. So off we went into Pendulum Records (RIP) and my parents suggested the Now series. We looked at Now 39, newly released and so shiny – it had the Spice Girls, All Saints, Shania Twain! I was 9, I had little to no music taste at that point – all I knew was that this album had pop music galore and I couldn’t pay quick enough!

I was so very happy that day. I carried the little blue bag around like it was made of gold, telling everyone we ran into that I’d bought this AMAZING CD with my birthday money. I couldn’t wait to get it home and – very carefully so I didn’t scratch it – put it in my little CD player and start making up dance routines to Aqua. That CD played on repeat for months – until I discovered Ricky Martin’s Livin’ La Vida Loca in fact. But what I truly loved about Now 39 is that it opened up a world of music to me; a world which I am still engrossed in today.



Of course, I didn’t appreciate the likes of Radiohead or Pulp when I was 9, but when I’d look back at my old CDs during my early teens I had a new selection of songs to discover. And that is one of the greatest pleasures of the Now series, the breadth of music covered means there something for everyone to enjoy; even if you don’t like some tracks now, in a few years when tastes change you can still listen to same CD and gain as much enjoyment out of it as you did when it was new.

The Now range celebrates, three times a year, the best songs of the moment. The first track of disc 1 is always the most popular song at the time and it’s always interesting to see which one makes it. Currently, Now 86 is led by Katy Perry’s Roar (amazing song!), Now 85 was headed by Daft Punk’s Get Lucky (what else?). As Mark ‘voiceover extraordinaire’ Goodier says ‘Now That’s What I Call Music! has always been a hit because every edition brilliantly distills each 2 or 3 months in pop.’ And he’s true, its a wonderful piece of pop history which is fascinating to look back at.

And the enduring popularity of the series speaks volumes about its valuable place in music. According to Quietus, the current CD, Now 86 sold 270,000 copies in its first week on sale, down from Now 85’s first week of 317,000. In comparison, the highest artist album first week sales this year was for Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories which chalked up 165,000.

Queen drinking 1I want to raise a toast. To the delightful, compilation album that could, Now That’s What I Call Music! Long may it continue to inspire birthday presents, be a permanent fixture in every household’s music collection and celebrate the best music of the day!

Right, I’m going to listen to some Tin Tin Out.

Peace and love, Rx

Now That’s What I Call Music 39 Tracklist:

Disc 1
All Saints: “Never Ever”
Lighthouse Family: “High”
Janet Jackson: “Together Again”
Spice Girls: “Stop”
Natalie Imbruglia: “Torn”
Billie Myers: “Kiss the Rain”
Robbie Williams: “Angels”
Various Artists: “Perfect Day”
Boyzone: “Baby Can I Hold You”
Tin Tin Out featuring Shelley Nelson: “Here’s Where the Story Ends”
Space & Cerys Matthews: “The Ballad of Tom Jones”
Texas: “Insane”
Hanson: “Weird”
LeAnn Rimes: “How Do I Live”
Shania Twain: “You’re Still the One”
Sheryl Crow: “Tomorrow Never Dies”
Radiohead: “No Surprises”
The Verve: “Lucky Man”
Pulp: “This Is Hardcore”

Disc two
Robbie Williams: “Let Me Entertain You”
Catatonia: “Mulder and Scully”
Cornershop: “Brimful of Asha” (Norman Cook Remix)
Run-D.M.C. vs. Jason Nevins: “It’s Like That”
Wildchild: “Renegade Master ’98”
Bamboo: “Bamboogie”
Ultra Nate: “Found a Cure”
Sash!: “La Primavera”
Aqua: “Barbie Girl”
Steps: “5,6,7,8”
Louise: “Let’s Go Round Again”
Chumbawamba: “Amnesia”
Camisra: “Let Me Show You”
DJ Quicksilver: “Planet Love”
Rest Assured: “Treat Infamy”
Warren G featuring Sissel: “Prince Igor”
Lutricia McNeal: “Ain’t That Just the Way”
Prince Buster: “Whine and Grine”
The All Seeing I: “Beat Goes On”
Goldie: “Believe”
Backstreet Boys: “All I Have to Give”
Vanilla: “No Way No Way”

Brilliant album.

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The Monster

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BRITslogoStorywhite_thumb_629_321An Open Letter to Christian Tattersfield

As new chairman of the Brit Awards you have been faced with the task of making them good again. This is no mean feat. You have already started the overhaul by announcing that Katy Perry and Arctic Monkeys will grace the stage next February and I think this is a step in the right direction. But with your aim to reach 10million viewers (which the Christmas Day Eastenders fails to reach nowadays) I feel you need to do a little more to improve our beloved Brit Awards…

The Brit Awards over recent years have lost their anarchic streak. They’ve been trying to be like the glossy, forced-fun, snooze-fest award shows that our American counterparts create rather than embracing our rebellious, drink-all-night-and-don’t-give-a-fuck attitude which was so successfully adopted previously. Perhaps this time you could get the Arctic Monkeys can launch into another tirade about the Brit School to spice things up.

Philip Treacy's Brit Award design for 2014

Philip Treacy’s Brit Award design for 2014

What everyone really wants to see is their favourite artists absolutely battered. Pissed as farts trying to put together an acceptance speech. That’s when all the best things happen. That’s when Robbie Williams bet £100,000 that he’d beat Liam Gallagher in a fight. That’s when Jarvis Cocker ran on stage when MJ was performing and mooned the crowd. It’s the chaos that viewers love and that’s what needs to happen to attract your 10million viewers.

The thing most crucially missing from the Brit Awards of late however, is the collaborations. I used to look forward to each year wondering who would turn up on stage in the middle of someone else’s song. It was brilliant! But this has been lacking in recent years. And really, there are very few opportunities for artists to collaborate on stage; other than festivals it is award ceremonies when lots of bands are all together. They’re swapping numbers and saliva anyway so why not lyrics too? Why producers aren’t making the most of this I don’t know. My favourite collaboration of the Brits is You’ve Got The Dirtee Love (the only time I can stomach Dizzee Rascal):



So, in conclusion, my suggestions for you, Christian, are these:

Drink and drugs on demand
Maybe just pump the air with alcohol as well so to ensure everyone is hammered. Pots of weed and coke instead of salt and pepper shakers?

A new host
Get rid of James Cordon, there is no-one worse! Well, except perhaps Sam Fox and Mick Fleetwood…

Collaborations!
Get Ben Howard and Katy Perry together. Do a Daft Punk/Arctic Monkeys mash up. Bring back PJ and Duncan to sing with Bieber!

Fights!
Get Harry Styles to sleep with one of the Wanted’s mums and tell them live on TV. ‘Accidentally’ show a sex tape between Miley Cyrus and Robin Thicke. Get Liam and Noel on the same stage as see chaos ensues!

I think you get the gist… Basically, I want the Brit Awards to be good again. We Brits are bloody good at making music and we deserve to have an award celebration that fits accordingly. So get going Christian, you’ve got three months… See you in February!

Yours faithfully,

Rx

Satellite of Love

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I haven’t posted on this blog since March.

This is shameful as my love and lust for music has certainly not wained. And I haven’t forgotten about my beloved Untitled Playlist, heck I look at the actual playlist everyday on my iPod! I’m not sure how to explain this to you, or even to myself. I don’t know why I haven’t really posted, as I definitely haven’t stopped writing. Perhaps I just needed a little break. And didn’t realise until now.

Anyway, before I start getting too emotional lets talk music covers! Specifically London Grammar. And Drive. And Muse. And fireworks.

I’m sure you’ll all be up to speed on the joyous eleven tracks which make up London Grammar’s deliciously beautiful debut, If You Wait. (And if not, why not?? Go listen now!) But if some of you, like me, are a little slow on the uptake you may not have realised that Nightcall is a cover of the truly epic Kavinsky song which is part of the Drive soundtrack. (For a music aficionado, I hang my head in shame at how long it took me to realise these two were the same!)



Yeah… pretty beautiful cover, no?

Anywho, this got me thinking about cover songs and why artists do them. Often it is to honour an artist they look up to, such as Arctic Monkeys covering the late, great Lou Reed when he passed. Or when Michael Jackson died at Glastonbury, so many bands dropped some MJ into their sets. It was great. But when artists are forced to cover songs (in the Live Lounge for example), there just isn’t the same emotion and love behind it.

I’m sad to say this but I actually agree with Dizzee Rascal (fix up look sharrrrrp) on something. In a recent rant on twitter Dylan started mouthing off about Radio 1 and its playlist makers, in said rant he said this:

That’s not to say all Live Lounge covers are bad, some are indeed phenomenal but there is no getting away from the fact it is always forced. Bands always have to choose a song off the ‘A Playlist’ when in the Live Lounge for example. Whilst it is all part of the PR machine to promote albums, singles and sell songs and make lots of money, I can’t see the point in forcing bands to do covers just (to paraphrase Dizzee) to put on your annual compilation album. You end up with a few gems in a pile of terrible covers like this. Just not worth it.

Personally, I think the best covers are the organic ones which bands truly love playing so they play them. My favourite cover will always be Muse’s cover of Nina Simone, for me it is perfection in a song. Imagine my delight at bonfire night last night when this song had choreographed fireworks to it!



What do you think of covers? Favourite one? Leave your thoughts below

Rx

Follow Baby

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The Yeah Yeah Yeahs are back! Yeah!

And they’ve come back with a bang – the first single of their new album, Sacrilege, hit Youtube on Monday with a rather unsettling yet mesmerising video. We see Lily Cole (model and actress extraordinaire) being burned alive by her townspeople for having her wicked way with, well, just about everyone. This is a very good video – brilliant cinematography, production and direction. Watch it NOW.



And what about the song?
A slow haunting tune which builds into a dramatic cocophony of sound – fusing gospel with Karen O’s trademark squeals, cries of ‘in our bed’ and ‘sacrilege’ pierce the gentle and sensual melodies which in the end make a wonderful piece of music. Wow, I’ve missed the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Its been four years since the utter delight that is It’s A Blitz and I hadn’t realised how much I missed Karen, Brian and Nick.

Missed them too? Catch up here.

Rx

Lose Yourself

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Justin Timberlake and Jimmy Fallon explain the history of rap.

This is genius. It’s becoming a thing that the every time JT goes on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon that they perform the history of rap together – Part 4 aired last weekend. And I don’t want this tradition to ever end!
Two white guys in suits rapping to some of the best rap songs ever made is just comedy gold.

Here is Part One (which is bloody hard to find! Someone put it on Youtube!) So you’ll have to go to Gawker to watch it… Sorry, I tried.

Someone has kindly put Part Two and Three into one video:



And finally here is Part Four:

What I think is so brilliant about this is how well JT and Jimmy rap and sing – they are completely committed to showing off these amazing rap songs. I love it. I have so much respect for JT and Jimmy. MORE PLEASE.

Rx

Can’t Pretend

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Folk music. That’s what I’ve been listening to of late. A lot, a lot of folksy, guitar music. And quite a few ‘one-man-and-his-guitar’ types. (You’ll see what I mean when you read on) So here’s a little run down of what I’ve been listening to as we all love a good list.

Keaton+Henson+PNGKeaton Henson – This chap is still relatively unknown but I found out about him in an Observer article. His music is so absorbing – his vulnerable voice draws you in and leaves you eager to know the end of each story. So fragile, touching and exposed his songs are straight from his heart and they’re a thing of beauty to listen to. Apparently “Keaton Henson spends his time alone, writing songs and sometimes drawing, he doesn’t like to talk about himself.” Having listened to his music I have a feeling he’s going to have to get used to talking about himself… Here’s his Youtube channel and check out his (rather cool) website.



Ben+HowardBen Howard – God I love this bloke. Genuinely, I have listened to Ben Howard everyday for the last six or seven months. His Mercurycard nominated album, ‘Every Kingdom’ is one of my favourite albums of the last year or so – its just stunning! His voice is completely captivating and his guitar melodies are so engaging – this album is a work of art. Recently winning both British Breakthrough Act and British Solo Male Artist at the Brits I could not be more happy for his success. Watch more of him here…



Of+Monsters+and+Men+ofOf Monsters and Men – This band make me think of Summer. And let’s face it, I live in London, the weather is crap so I have to find my sunshine from somewhere other than the sky. Hailing from Iceland, Of Monsters and Men have created a simply marvellous debut album. ‘My Head Is An Animal’ shows how powerful a male and female singer can be in a band. Beautiful harmonies are the core of this album – charismatic drums keep time and ethereal melodies courtesy of guitars and keyboard provide the perfect accompaniment to the vocals. Have a listen to them here… or read about them some more here on their website.



Tom+OdellTom Odell – There’s a lot going for Tom Odell right now, he can’t get off the radio, he won the Brits Critics’ Choice award, he’s got designers and celebs falling over themselves to work with him, he’s just announced his own headline tour and every song he releases is superb. Whilst this stardom has come quite quickly for the boy, he’s definitely holding up well under the pressure. With just three songs to his name so far I can’t wait for his debut album. Which is released on my birthday (April 15) hint hint. Find out more about the boy wonder on his blog.



Jake+Bugg+PNG+versionJake Bugg – I’ve definitely felt like Jake Bugg has been so over hyped that I didn’t want to listen to him just to rebel. Alas, I succumb. I was an idiot for not listening sooner. His album is awesome. Whilst Lightning Bolt has become the soundtrack to all E4 shows, its the rest of the album which really excites me. Each song is so exciting, charming and refreshing – I know this is such a cliché but he really does put a smile on my face when I listen to him. And what is really quite frightening is that his is 18, how can he be this good so young? It makes me very excited about what Jake has to come. His website is here and here is his Youtube.

All photos are from Last.FM

Any thoughts on my folk-ish obsession of late? Roll on Summer so my music fits the weather.

Rx

Hey Scenesters!

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Music update!

Imagine Dragons – Radioactive
Wowzer. I can’t stop listening to this. I bought the EP and whilst Radioactive is the best track on it (by a mile) the other songs aren’t too bad. But Radioactive is incredible. Its just been on repeat since I bought it.
“Welcome to the new age, welcome to the new age”
LOVE



Next up, Drowners. I heard this song a long time ago and loved it and, admittedly, kind of forgot about it. But anyway, now they have a video and radio is catching up (I woke up to this playing on 6Music.) Tis brilliant.



And this is still wonderful:



In other (VERY EXCITING) news. I have Fleetwood Mac tickets! *jumps around the room dancing and screaming*
You may or may not be aware but I love Fleetwood Mac, truly love them. Stevie, Lindsey, Mick, John and Christine – you are awesome. Read about them here. I just can’t wait to see them.

I am also learning to play the ukulele. This is my ukulele. I’ll keep you updated.

ukulele

That’s all for now. Peace out. Listen to Fleetwood Mac.

Rx

Take Me Out

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Now my favourite radio station is BBC 6Music. After the horrors of local northern radio stations such as Lincs FM (with the birthday shout outs) and Galaxy (the chavviest station known to man) I was desperate to find a decent radio station in my youth. Radio 1 was a favourite of mine for a long time and as was XFM (London branch) but over the last few years I have listened to BBC 6Music pretty much everyday and has come up as my firm favourite.

The family photo - 10 years old

The family photo – 10 years old – Copyright:BBC

Started in 2002, the digital only radio station faced closure in 2010 but after a huge uproar it was saved and has since become the leading digital station in the country.

I listen to Shaun Keaveny every morning without fail – he has the BEST breakfast show around. He eases you into the morning with his witty, self-deprecating manner and a brilliant playlist. It offers a dedicated music news section as well as the normal news to gear you up for the day. MASOs (Middle-aged shout-outs) is the best radio feature. Ever. And my favourite Professor Brian Cox shows up every week too – a perfect morning show!
Aside from Shaun other DJs include among others, Lauren Laverne, Steve Lamacq, Jarvis Cocker, Mary-Anne Hobbs and Guy Garvey. The list of talent goes on and on. Its a real music-lovers heaven – I can’t get enough of this station and you should definitely give it a listen if you haven’t already.

Now the reason I started writing this post is that is 10 years of this wonderful station and to celebrate they had a listeners poll to discover the top 100 songs of 6Music’s lifetime. 10 years ago I was 13 and really getting into my music. The 10 years of 6Music’s life have also been the 10 years of my music life so I was desperate to see the outcome of this poll.

The top 10 are:
1 Coldplay – Clocks
2 Arctic Monkeys – I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor
3 Elbow – One Day Like This
4 The National – Bloodbuzz Ohio
5 The Killers – Mr Brightside
6 The White Stripes – Seven Nation Army
7 The Flaming Lips – Do You Realize??
8 Johnny Cash – Hurt
9 British Sea Power – Remember Me
10 Radiohead – There There
With the rest of the countdown being here.

I personally voted for Arctic Monkeys – I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor because their debut album basically changed my life, so I’m a little gutted they didn’t get the top spot. Number 2 isn’t bad though and I do love Coldplay – seeing them headline Glastonbury last year was one of the greatest moments of my life, I won’t be forgetting Coldplay or that moment in a hurry. Mr Brightside was the soundtrack to my sixth form days when I met some of the greatest people I know, Seven Nation Army has, in my eyes the best riff ever, and Johnny Cash’s Hurt brings me to tears every time I hear it. I think the listeners of 6Music have got it spot on.

Have a listen to the list here…

Do you listen to 6Music? What’s your favourite radio station? Do you approve of the list??
Leave me links and comments below – I’d love to know your thoughts!

Rx

Pompeii

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Bastille - Official Website

Bastille – Official Website

I feel like Bastille have been floating around the periphery of ‘making it’ for a while now. And I think it’s because their music, for me at any rate, was a bit muddled in what it was trying to be. Are they a pop band? Are they an electro unit? They sing anthemic style choruses for clubs…?
I just didn’t quite understand what they were about and I didn’t love single ‘Bad Blood’ enough to spend hours figuring it out. So naturally my attention was caught by some other band trying to make it and that was that until now…

Bad Blood – Bastille

It was this live lounge cover which changed it. Bastille had had my curiosity, but now they have my attention (to paraphrase Calvin Candie. On a side note, how frickin’ good is Django Unchained??)

Locked Out Of Heaven – Bastille (Cover)

Now the Jay Z/Kanye keyboard intro may have made my ears prick up but after a few moments I was hooked. Completely. This grand, orchestral remix of a BRUNO MARS song exposed the shallow lyrics and showed how over produced the original sounds. Yeah sucks to be you Bruno.
But regardless of what song they covered it was effortless style that Bastille did it in which impressed me most of all. The string composition, the keyboards and the sublime vocals just stunned me into silence. I then immediately looked up their next single, Pompeii.

Pompeii – Bastille

Now whilst this has been knocking around for a while, this video of the studio and album version was released two days ago on their VEVO page. And it is just great. Brilliant in fact. A song that just stands out – its anthemic backing vocals, relentless drums and bright and light melody despite the aching lyrics are simply wonderful. Lead singer Dan’s voice shines here crying out the almost melancholic lyrics: “And the walls kept tumbling down, in the city that we love/Great clouds roll over the hills, bringing darkness from above”
Click on the video above and have a listen, because it will leave no doubt in your mind about how good this band are and can be. It may have taken a while for me to understand the different strands to Bastille and how it forms a coherent band but Pompeii for me, defines everything the band are. And its marvellous.

Lead singer Dan Smith repeats in Pompeii: “How am I gonna be an optimist about this?” I wouldn’t worry your little head Dan, Bastille will be absolutely fine.

Thoughts on Bastille?

Rx

Wraith

Well hello! It’s 2013 which frankly I don’t like the sound of but hey.

Here’s what I’ve been listening to of late.
Tom Odell – he’s the first fella to win the Brits Critics Choice award (go Tom!) And I cannot stop listen to Can’t Pretend. Wowzers Batman its good.

The next gem I found courtesy of Huw Stephens, the radio 1 legend that is. It’s Chocolate by The 1975

And finally, in this top 3 of the week (which I literally just invented. Right there) is Inhaler by Foals. And before you start I know its been out for ages and they have a new song out but my days this just keeps getting better and better. I CANNOT wait for Holy Fire.

Rx