Did you know that ‘Breaking Glass‘ the 1980 film directed by Brian Gibson and starring Hazel O’Connor, Jonathan Pryce and Phil Daniels was co-produced by Dodi Fayed? yes he’s the chap who was Princess Diana‘s boyfriend when she died. He was killed in the same car crash in Paris in August 1997. I wonder if anyone has rolled this film into the conspiracy theories yet? I’m sure that it’s only a matter of time!
“I want the world to know I’m happy as can be” November 15, 2012
This month, November 2012, marks the 60th anniversary of the UK singles chart which began in the NME in 1952. We’ve come a long way from crooner Al Martino‘s “Here In My Heart” all those years ago to the current resident of the number one spot in the UK singles chart; Robbie Williams with “Candy”. Maybe we haven’t come too far though as Robbie does fancy himself as a crooner doesn’t he. I must confess that Robbie’s current number 1 is one of the few songs of his that I like.
The chart now includes downloads which have helped to boost sales of singles considerably. Apparently there have been 3.7 billion singles sold in that 60 year period in all formats. But the peak for the physical format was the 80s which recorded 640 million singles sales. The biggest selling UK single ever was Elton John’s “Candle In The Wind ’97” which was the singers dedication to Princess Diana. It sold 4.9 million copies and therefore raised millions for charity. Personally I prefer the original version. Does anyone ever play the Diana version these days? Incidentally do you know what the biggest selling single never to top the charts is? It’s Wham! with “Last Christmas/ Everything She Wants” which lost out to Band Aid’s “Do They Know It’s Christmas” which is the second best-selling single ever back in 1984.
There have been more than 1,200 number ones in the chart’s history. The artists with most number one singles in the UK are;
Elvis Presley (21)
Cliff Richard (14)
How tragic is it that Westlife are in there?
As a teenager I can still recall lining up my cassette recorder microphone near the transistor radio to record my favourite songs from the Radio 1 chart rundown back in the 70s. How many of you did the same? I know of at least one fellow blogger who did. You can check out his excellent post on this chart milestone on his Every Record tells A Story blog by clicking here. You’ll even be able to see him on the chart history documentary on the Beeb! Recording the charts now seems almost pointless given the availability of music on-line, which I think is a real shame. But hey that’s progress right? Talking of progress, the first ever UK number one single based on download sales alone was as far back as 2006. It was the excellent “Crazy” from Gnarls Barkley.
There are also a number of chart records an artist probably wouldn’t want though, like;
Most Top 75 hits (97 of them) without a number one. That one is the honour of the Glee Cast. I hope they keep that one forever
Most Top 40 hits without a number one is easily won by Depeche Mode with 40 of them.
But perhaps the one you really should feel sorry for is Sash! A record of five number 2 singles and no number 1.
But let me finish on a better note. The first single I ever bought was a classic UK number one in my opinion. It was “Sugar Sugar” by the Archies and stayed at the top for 8 weeks at the tail end of 1969. Personally I fell that the charts will stay with us for many years yet, albeit very much adapted from the old days of purely physical sales. I would love to hear your thoughts on this fabulous UK Charts anniversary.
Lady Gaga – MEN Arena Manchester – Tuesday 11th September 2012 September 12, 2012
Some months ago I bought tickets for Catwoman and I to go and see Lady Gaga on her Born This Way Ball show. Well the time finally came around and we were there at the MEN last night. I should say up front that as far as the music goes I have been a fan of Gaga for a while so I was certainly looking forward to seeing her. But first there was the little matter of the Darkness who were on stage when we arrived at the MEN. I have unfinished business with these guys. I saw them at the Reading Festival back in 2003 when they were easily the highlight of Saturday afternoon. In fact highlight would be an understatement, they blew the opposition away. However the following year they were elevated to headliners and they truly sucked the big one, they were awful. So whilst I was pleased that they have got back together I was a little apprehensive. In my opinion they are easily back to their best and their new album is pretty good too. Catwoman wasn’t so keen and claimed that the volume almost had her ears bleeding! possibly a little exaggeration there!
After Justin and the boys left the stage we were promised a 30 minute wait for HRH Gaga, this stretched to about an hour which is never a good thing is it? Gaga’s entrance though did tick all the right dramatic and spectacular boxes. The curtains dropped to reveal a stage set that was part Disney princess castle and part Hammer Horror film left over. She then made her way onto the stage on the back of what can only be described as a very posh pantomime horse. For most of the gig the band were hidden away in the castle; shades of Bowie’s theatrical excursion across the USA in 1974 for the Diamond Dogs tour.
I felt that all of Ms Germanotta’s influences were on show during the evening. Bowie in the theatrical element, Freddie Mercury in how she tried to manage the crowd and I suspect her loyal little monsters won’t like this; Madonna for all the costume changes and a bra with two guns pointing from it. I can’t believe that didn’t have it’s roots in Madge’s now iconic cone bra from a few years back. How did all this rate? 9 out of 10 for the theatrical set, 4 out of 10 for crowd control and 8 out of 10 for costumes. Including one dress that allowed her to move like a Dalek, now that was cool!
Her songs are very strong and the dancers and the band are also very good. All the hits were rolled out “Born This Way”, “Just Dance”, “Bad Romance” and “Alejandro” to name but a few. It wasn’t her fault but I do believe the sound from her head mic could have been better. It certainly improved when she used a hand-held or one in a stand. Keeping up the scoring theme I will award her 10 out of 10 for the songs and 8 for the singing and the dancing, including the Lady herself, gets an 8 from me. So if I add all those scores together that would be 47 out of 60. Which is not a bad score is it? However I need to adjust it with at least a minus 30 for all the pretentious crap she spouted not so much between songs but in the prolonged talking part of the show. It’s right that a good artist should change the tempo of a performance but what she did was effectively grind it to a halt just to talk bollocks for what seemed like ages. I know that one of the dancers had suffered a family bereavement, but even so this was way, way over the top.
Constant questions about whether we ‘give a fuck’ or not tend to grate after a while. For the record I purchased tickets and I own her albums so I do give a fuck. My question to Gaga is do you? The little monsters worshipping mother monster is all well and good but her pontifications were almost cult like and a little bit Dubya in the sense that you’re either with us or you’re not, no in-between. I was with her, but now I’m not. So I assume that this make’s me the Gaga equivalent of a ‘cheese eating surrender monkey’
Also how many times did she have to tell us that “Born This Way” was written at the MEN during her last major UK tour. Once would have been enough. Then there was the new song about Princess Diana. It sounds like a reasonable song, but the spoken introduction which went on and on and on added nothing to it and would have struggled to raise a laugh or excitement from someone afflicted with a disease that means they laugh all the time.
She has a fixation for Disney Princesses and a clear dislike for Barbie which surprises me given how bland, insipid and devoid of controversy most Disney princesses actually are. It was quite amusing to see Ms Germanotta struggling to rip Barbie’s limbs off though. Overall I was disappointed I expected more from someone who I still believe has much potential and talent. But she really does need to take her head out of her, albeit rather nice, arse and get real before I would ever consider seeing her again.
“When you’re sure you’ve had enough of this life, well hang on” October 3, 2010
A recent survey undertaken by PRS for Music sought to discover the songs that make us men cry. A total of 1,700 men were polled and the results make somewhat interesting reading I think. The top ten is shown below, with a few comments from me. Click here to read a report on the results in the UK free newspaper, the Metro.
1. Everybody Hurts – REM – A great REM song taken from the classic ‘Automatic For The People‘ album. It was written by drummer Bill Berry, although he didn’t play drums on the track, that was done by a drum machine. He also said that the song was aimed at teenagers. In 2006 the song was voted 4th in a poll by Channel 5 to discover ‘Britain Favourite Break Up Songs’
2. Tears in Heaven – Eric Clapton – A very sad song in many ways. Clapton wrote it with Will Jennings after the death of his four-year old son Conor in 1991. The boy fell from the window of a friend’s apartment in New York
3. Hallelujah – Leonard Cohen – Now this one is a classic and has been covered by many artists. X Factor winner Alexandra Burke reached number one in the UK with, at best a very mediocre working of the song and at its worst would easily make music purists cry. In my opinion the best version is easily that of the late, great Jeff Buckley and that version can indeed bring tears to my eyes
4. Nothing Compares 2 U – Sinead O’Connor – She will always have my respect for tearing up a photo of the pope on US TV, I bet that made a few people cry with rage though. It reached number one in the UK in 1990. The song is actually a cover version of a song written by his royal purpleness, Prince. It was recorded and released by the Family in 1985, this was simply a vehicle to enable Prince to release more of his material.
5. With or Without You – U2 – This was the first single from ‘The Joshua Tree’ in 1987 and became their first US number one song.
6. The Drugs Don’t Work – The Verve – This was the band’s most successful UK single and reached number one in 1997, having been released the day after Princess Diana died. It was written by lead singer Richard Ashcroft about his own drug habit and also about the death of his father.
7. Candle In The Wind – Elton John – I really do prefer the original version of this song, it was about Marilyn Monroe and was taken from the album ‘Goodbye Yellow Brick Road‘ However, sadly, in my opinion, the version that most people remember is the rewritten version for Princess Diana’s funeral in 1997, although in its defence it did raise millions for charity. Incidentally I reckon that must be the first time Princess Diana has been mentioned more than once in any of my posts.
8. Streets of Philadelphia – Bruce Springsteen – Bruce wrote this for the first mainstream movie to tackle HIV/ AIDS, ‘Philadelphia’ from 1993. The song won the best original song Oscar. It reached number one in many countries, although not in the US or UK. It has also been known to occasionally open my tear ducts too.
9. Unchained Melody – Todd Duncan – whilst the article lists the Todd Duncan version, which was taken from the 1955 prison film; ‘Unchained’ it is probably the Righteous Brothers version that most people know. That version was recorded in the sixties but became a massive hit again when it was used in the 1990 film ‘Ghost’. It has been recorded by more than 500 artists including, Jimmy Young, Elvis Presley, the Supremes, U2, the Smashing Pumpkins and there was also an excruciatingly bad version by Pop Idol muppet Gareth Gates.
10. Angels – Robbie Williams – As regular readers of this blog know, I am definitely not a Robbie fan and I particularly dislike this song. I really don’t get it, I mean “I’m loving angels instead”? Instead of what exactly?
There are a few songs that can make me blub, many by Johnny Nash, Bob Marley and Jeff Buckley. But perhaps the one that does it the most is “Sailing” by Rod Stewart. It was always my Dad’s favourite song and we played it as his funeral back in 2001. What songs make you cry?
Finally let me finish with a classic video for one of my favourite songs about crying. It’s “Cry” by Godley and Creme