Before Lizzy Grant became Lana Del Rey she went through quite a few names. One of the best (and I thank the NME for pointing this out) is probably Sparkle Jump Rope Queen. Under that moniker she launched a few songs onto the internet in 2008. They included “Elvis“, “Blue Ribbon” and “Axl Rose Husband”. Lana was rumoured to have dated Axl Rose a couple of years ago. Personally I think she could do so much better! The question is was it just a rumour? At the height of that rumour she appeared in a Guns ‘N’ Roses t-shirt at the Jazz Cafe in London. Both Lana and Axl have a Scottish lineage and one of the bonus tracks on her current album is called “Guns ‘N’ Roses”. So did she or didn’t she date Axl Rose? You know what I really don’t care. I simply love Lana’s tunes!
Usually the most entertaining part of the Eurovision Song Contest is the voting and checking how many countries hate us Brits and show it by giving us nul points. But this year I really feel that we are in with a shout. Molly’s “Children Of The Universe” strikes me as classic Eurovision. I wonder how the votes will be split between Russia and the Ukraine? Anyway I should warn you that I am typing this post as I watch the show. So let’s get on with the 59th Eurovision Song Contest shall we?
Ukraine are up first with a typical Euro song title; “Tick Tock”. Why is there a bloke in a hamster wheel on stage? Singer Mariya Yaremchuk looks good and the song, in spite of its title is not too shabby. Belarus are up next represented by Teo with “Cheesecake”. He has a monster quiff does that Teo. It’s an ok kind of song with some good synchronised dancing in the performance, but no hamster wheel.
Azerbaijan are next and they are trying to “Start A Fire” as sung by Dilara Kazimova. While there is no hamster wheel there is a trapeze. What is that all about? Anyway in my opinion this is a bit of a dirgeful ballad with a singer who seems a little too earnest for me. In Dilara’s favour Catwoman likes her dress. Pollaponk are representing Iceland and one of their backing vocalists is an Icelandic MP. Their suits are all primary colours but as the song says let’s show them “No Prejudice”. The song is a little pop punk with more emphasis on the pop. I’ll probably be wrong as usual, but I think this could win.
Carl Espen is trying to whip up a “Silent Storm” for Norway. He is not an established singer and keeping it in the family the song was written by his cousin. Not my kind of song. It strikes me as a bit forgettable. Paula Seling and Ovi are hoping for a “Miracle” as they sing for Romania. This song can’t make up its mind as to whether it’s a power ballad or just another piece of Euro Disco. It does feature a round piano though.
Armenia are putting up a comedian called Aram MP3 with “Not Alone” which didn’t sound particularly funny to me. Have I missed the punchline. I also felt his voice was a bit flat and out of tune at times. It definitely sees itself as an 80s power ballad though. Montenegro are the first country tonight that are singing in their native tongue. The singer is Sergej Cetkovic with “Moj Svijet”. It sounds like classic mid table Eurovision fodder to me, which given my track record probably means it’ll win. It is backed up with a roller skating dancer, why? Don’t ask me.
We are Slavic washerwomen
“We Are Slavic” is the Polish entry and is sung in English and Polish by Donatan and Cleo. Is it really a feminist anthem? Why are they all dressed as milkmaids? Greece are about to “Rise Up” performed by Freaky Fortune featuring RiskyKidd. The Kidd is actually a rapper from London. It strikes me as the first song of the night to really get the place rocking. Not a hamster wheel in sight, just a bloody huge trampoline.
Now it’s Austria with a bearded drag artist, Conchita Wurst singing “Rise Like A Pheonix”. He/ She looks a little scary to me. It’s a good song but the whole appearance puts me right off. Germany ask “Is It Right” with a female trio called Elaiza. It features an accordion and has a bit of an oompah feel about it. I really don’t like this song!
Can Sanna Nielsen“Undo” the competition for Sweden 40 years after Abba won the contest? Possibly as it is this years favourite. Actually it’s a bloody good sung and Sanna has a great voice. If a ballad wins this year it might be “Undo”. TWIN TWIN perform the French entry “Moustache”; a song about a man who can’t grow a moustache. The singer can certainly grow a cartoon comedy haircut though. I can only assume that France don’t want to win. This song is shit!
TWIN TWIN – you cocks!
The Tolmachevy Sisters have interlocking hair and they are singing “Shine”. Their hair has come undone, well at least that will make going to the toilet easier. But wait now they’re on a see saw; why? It was ok but they’re hardly Pussy Riot. Emma sings in Italian for Italy with a rocking little ditty called “La Mia Citta” a.k.a “My City”. The costumes are a bit Roman Empire. Not a bad song though.
Tinkara Kovac is singing “Round And Round” for Slovenia. Sung in Slovene and English in a rather shouty way with added flute. We’re hoping for “Something Better” from Finland from Softengine. They sound a bit like a discofied Aha.
Ruth Lorenzo once came 5th in the X Factor and she is singing her own composition for Spain. It’s called “Dancing In The Rain”. Knowing my luck a former X Factor contestant will win it. It hurts terribly to admit it but the song is alright, not great just alright. The shouty bit at the end kills it a bit though. Those perennial neutrals Switzerland have a song called “Hunter Of Stars” by Sebalter. It has far too much whistling for my liking with a backing track that sounds like a speeded up “Duelling Banjos“.
Andras Kallay-Saunders is “Running” for Hungary. He runs around the stage a bit too. A good pop song methinks. Malta are “Coming Home” with Firelight. Two siblings in the band have a mother from Yorkshire. But the song is so Mumford it hurts. Is that style popular across Europe? I don’t know and frankly I hope not! But just to provide a balanced view, Catwoman likes this song apart from the female vocals.
Next up is “Cliche Love Song” by Basim singing for hosts Denmark. Blimey is he miming to Bruno Mars? This is possibly one of the best entries of the night. The Danish TV executives must be shitting themselves. It costs a packet to put this show on. After Denmark the Netherlands provide the “Calm After The Storm” as song by the Common Linnets. Who knew that the Dutch do Country and Western? They can though and it’s quite a good song.
San Marino are the penultimate country with “Maybe” sung by Valentina Monetta. It sounds like the theme song to a late 60s James Bond spoof. Was that meant to be a giant sea shell behind her? Finally it’s time for the UK entry which is “Children Of The Universe” from Molly. I really do think she’s in with a chance. Not sure about her boots but for me Molly nailed it!
Before the scoring starts my tips are Sweden, Denmark and the UK and I reckon France ought to finish last. Now for the scoring which as you might have guessed featured all the usual political voting. Molly came 17th out of 26th so not as bad as many UK entries. The runaway winner was Conchita Wurst from Austria a.k.a the bearded lady with “Rise Like A Phoenix”. I really don’t get it, although to be fair on second hearing the song isn’t too bad! As for my tips; Sweden were third and I was right about France who finished last!
According to Joe Anderson, the Mayor of Liverpool, his city’s artists can claim more UK number one singles per head of population than any other city in the world. There have been 57 so far, including 17 from the Beatles. Let’s stick to cities and not smaller towns and villages though, otherwise Westlife might put Sligo on top of the list with their 14 UK number one singles. Incidentally I wonder how many number one singles London has had? Or any other city for that matter.
Joe was writing in Q Magazine to counter London Mayor Boris Johnson‘s ridiculous claim that London ‘made’ the Beatles. Surely it was Liverpool and possibly a degree of Hamburg that ‘made’ the Fab Four? What do you think of Boris’ comments? I think he is a complete arse!
Here are those Liverpool acts and their UK number ones;
14 March 1953 : Lita Roza – “(How Much Is) That Doggie in the Window?”
25 January 1957 : Frankie Vaughan – “The Garden of Eden”
14 February 1958 : Michael Holliday – “The Story of My Life”
29 January 1960 : Michael Holliday – “Starry Eyed”
7 December 1961 : Frankie Vaughan – “Tower of Strength”
11 April 1963: Gerry and the Pacemakers – “How Do You Do It?”
2 May 1963: The Beatles – “From Me to You”
20 June 1963 : Gerry and the Pacemakers – “I Like It”
8 August 1963: The Searchers – “Sweets for My Sweet”
22 August 1963: Billy J. Kramer and The Dakotas – “Bad to Me”
12 September 1963 : The Beatles – “She Loves You”
31 October 1963 : Gerry and the Pacemakers – “You’ll Never Walk Alone”
28 November 1963 : The Beatles – “She Loves You”
12 December 1963 : The Beatles – “I Want to Hold Your Hand”
30 January 1964 : The Searchers – “Needles and Pins”
27 February 1964 : Cilla Black – “Anyone Who Had a Heart”
19 March 1964 : Billy J. Kramer and The Dakotas – “Little Children”
2 April 1964 : The Beatles – “Can’t Buy Me Love”
7 May 1964 : The Searchers – “Don’t Throw Your Love Away”
28 May 1964 : Cilla Black – “You’re My World”
23 July 1964: The Beatles – “A Hard Day’s Night”
10 December 1964 : The Beatles – “I Feel Fine”
22 April 1965 : The Beatles – “Ticket to Ride”
5 August 1965: The Beatles – “Help!”
30 September 1965 : Ken Dodd – “Tears”
16 December 1965 : The Beatles – “Day Tripper”/”We Can Work It Out”
23 June 1966: The Beatles – “Paperback Writer”
18 August 1966: The Beatles – “Yellow Submarine”/”Eleanor Rigby”
19 July 1967 : The Beatles – “All You Need Is Love”
6 December 1967: The Beatles – “Hello, Goodbye”
27 March 1968 : The Beatles – “Lady Madonna”
11 September 1968 : The Beatles – “Hey Jude”
11 December : 1968 The Scaffold – “Lily the Pink”
23 April 1969 : The Beatles with Billy Preston – “Get Back”
11 June 1969: The Beatles – “The Ballad of John and Yoko”
30 January 1971 : George Harrison – “My Sweet Lord”
3 December 1977 : Wings : “Mull of Kintyre”
20 December 1980 : John Lennon – “(Just Like) Starting Over”
10 January 1981 : John Lennon – “Imagine”
7 February 1981 : John Lennon – “Woman”
24 April 1982 : Paul McCartney with Stevie Wonder – “Ebony and Ivory”
14 January 1984 : Paul McCartney – “Pipes of Peace”
28 January 1984 : Frankie Goes to Hollywood – “Relax”
16 June 1984: Frankie Goes to Hollywood – “Two Tribes”
8 December 1984 : Frankie Goes to Hollywood – “The Power of Love”
9 March 1985 : Dead or Alive – “You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)”
15 June 1985: The Crowd – “You’ll Never Walk Alone”
29 August 1987 : Ferry Aid – “Let it Be”
20 May 1989 : Various artists – “Ferry Cross the Mersey”
22 July 1989 : Sonia – “You’ll Never Stop Me Loving You”
26 May 1996 : Baddiel, Skinner & The Lightning Seeds – “Three Lions”
14 June 1998: Baddiel, Skinner & The Lightning Seeds : “Three Lions ’98”
March 26 2000: Melanie C featuring Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes – “Never Be the Same Again”
August 13 2000: Melanie C – “I Turn to You”
February 4 2001: Atomic Kitten – “Whole Again”
July 29 2001: Atomic Kitten – “Eternal Flame”
January 20 2002: George Harrison – “My Sweet Lord”
April 28 2002: Sugababes – “Freak Like Me”
August 18 2002: Sugababes – “Round Round”
September 1 2002 : Atomic Kitten – “The Tide Is High (Get the Feeling)”
October 19 2003 : Sugababes – “Hole in the Head”
September 30 2007 : Sugababes – “About You Now”
Christmas number one 2012 : The Justice Collective – “He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother”
Stuart Goddard‘s Mum was once James McCartney’s cleaner. But to put that into something that most people will understand, Adam Ant’s Mum was once Paul McCartney’s cleaner. Adam was born Stuart Goddard and Paul McCartney’s name is in fact James Paul McCartney. Mr Ant was born in Marylebone so I assume that his Mum cleaned for Macca when he lived in London back in the days when young Master Ant was heading for his teenage years. Do you know the occupations of the parents of any other superstars?
Is Mr Ant following in his Mum’s footsteps?
These aren’t music related but I used to work at a London Transport bus overhaul works in Elstree from 1977 to 1983. At the same time we had Todd Carty‘s Dad working in the factory and Snooker Champion Steve ‘Interesting’ Davis’ Dad driving a staff bus. Todd played Tucker Jenkins in Grange Hill and Mark Fowler in Eastenders. But in a music related connection I did go to school with Chris Doveton whose daughters make up one-third of the superb band the Tuts and one half of the rather excellent Colour Me Wednesday. The Tuts have just completed a successful European Tour in support of Kate Nash and Colour Me Wednesday have been promoting their excellent first album ‘I Thought It Was Morning’ which came out in July. If you haven’t checked out the Tuts and Colour Me Wednesday yet you need to explain in no less than 500 words why you haven’t. if you don’t then I will have to arrange for Mrs Goddard to turn you upside down and use you as a mop!
The song that I have chosen to support the trivia element of this post is Adams Ant’s “Apollo 9” which was released in 1984, some 15 years after the launch of the rocket of the same name. Is it possible that Mrs Goddard was still polishing Macca’s floors when that launch took place in 1969? I have also decided to blatantly plug the Tuts and Colour Me Wednesday. Why would I do that I hear you ask? Simply because I can is my answer!
Back in May it was my pleasure to visit the marvellous ‘David Bowie Is’ exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. Click here to see my post about the museum visit. Well that exhibition is now ready to go on tour and the exhibits will soon be on display in Toronto, Canada. The show at the V & A closed on Sunday 11th August, but as a special send off there has been a nationwide cinema event live from the museum as a kind of epilogue before it moves abroad.
It was presented by the two curators Victoria Broackes and Geoffrey Marsh. Other guest presenters included author Hanif Kureishi who went to the same school as Bowie and wrote the Buddha Of Suburbia for which David wrote the soundtrack. Japanese fashion designer who provided many of Bowie’s more outlandish Ziggy garbs and choreographer Michael Clark also presented. The amusing and intelligent persona that is Jarvis Cocker had a chance to say his piece. There were many others too, but sadly no appearance from the main man himself.
But a look behind the scenes and some wonderful background explanations from the curators made up for that to a small degree. It was a well put together and well-informed send off for such a major exhibition which was seen by more than 300,000 people and up to 20,000 in cinemas across the UK this evening. Like many people I was glued to the TV watching Top Of The Pops on July 6th 1972 when Bowie and the Spiders made that now seminal appearance to perform “Starman”. I was transfixed then and have been hooked ever since. If you plan to see this exhibition on its tour I would love to hear from you and I am sure it will blow you away!
Earlier this year I had the pleasure of seeing a young band called the Tuts in York when they were supporting the wonderful Kate Nash. They hail from my birth place and old stomping ground of Hillingdon to the west of London. They are Nadia, Harriet and Beverley and they are a three girl punk powerhouse. Why am I telling you this? Well largely because the girls have just launched a new track into cyberspace. It’s called “Worry Warrior” and I must say it’s bloody good. I’d like to know what you think of it. I’ve already purchased it and I urge you to do the same.
Back in those heady days of the late 70s when even I was a mere teenager punk was in some people’s eyes the new fashion, the new style and the new order. But I always saw punk as much more than that. At its core, for me, punk is all about attitude and the Tuts have that in abundance. On top of that they are three very talented people. You’d better check them out and buy their new song. If you don’t then you need to remember that…….. I know where you live! “Worry Warrior” by the Tuts; I’ll give it five out of five and I’m looking forward to the album even more now! Click here to download the song from bandcamp.com.
I am sure that by now you are all aware of the ‘David Bowie Is’ exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum in Kensington, London. It began on 23rd March this year and runs until 11th August. It is also the fastest selling and best selling exhibition the museum has ever done. It includes many Bowie artefacts and costumes from his archive; many of which have never been shown to the public before. I booked my tickets ages ago and finally made it here on 5th May. ( I was joined by Catwoman and my good friends the Horslens)
There are handwritten lyrics from throughout his career and stage designs for most of his major tours from the Diamond Dogs US tour in 1974 to the Outside Tour of 1995 via 1983’s Serious Moonlight. The costumes range from those worn in all the aforementioned tours along with all the classic Ziggy outfits; including the classic one worn on that famous Top of the Pops performance of “Starman” from way back in July 1972.
The whole thing is incredibly arranged, directed and curated. The interactive audio headphones which trigger when you are near a particular exhibit are brilliant. I feel sure that Bowie has played a big part in the whole thing. There are some video shots and audio that have never legally seen the light of day before. I particularly loved the version of “Sweet Thing” from the 1974 US tour. There was also an excellent mock-up 3D stage set design for those shows. Those were possibly my two favourite things from the day.
Bowie has always been an artist and not just a rock star and this is clearly shown by the volume of his own paintings and sketches on display. Including a series of storyboard pictures for a ‘Diamond Dogs’ film that never got made. There were also some detailed notes showing that he had definitely intended for 1995’s ‘1: Outside’ album to be the first in a trilogy that would have ended in 1999. I wonder if he’ll ever make those other two? Sadly I think not.
His set of oblique strategy cards used in the studio by Brian Eno are there along with the synthesiser used on the Berlin albums. Another room is dedicated to showing clips from his best known films including; ‘The Man Who Fell To Earth‘, ‘Labyrinth’, ‘The Prestige’, ‘Basquiat’, ‘Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence‘ and ‘Absolute Beginners‘. There is also a rare public outing for a clip from his 1967 black and white short ‘The Image’ (as a bit of a Bowie anorak I already have this on DVD).. Costumes and props from some of these films are also on show.
The Bowie items in the shop are quite tasteful too, in the main anyway! I had previously bought the David Bowie Is hardback book and today I bought the Ziggyology book along with the set of postcards that relate to the exhibition. Obviously I needed more stuff to continue the pimping of my man bag so I bought a pin badge emblazoned with the phrase ‘David Bowie Is turning us all into voyeurs’.
I was excited before the exhibition and that was well justified excitement in my opinion. It exceeded my very high expectations by a very long way. If you have been or are planning to go I’d love to hear your thoughts. If you are unable to attend then you have missed something really special. Now let me sign off with a few Bowie classics.
One Direction were recently given the honour of having their wax sculpted likenesses made and put on show in Madame Tussauds in London. personally I am really struggling to tell the real Wand Erection from the wax version. I hope that no one makes that mistake when it comes time to melt them down in a couple of years. But hopefully their careers will be on the wane by then so some wax activity will provide the chance to flog some 1D candles made from either the real 1D or their wax counterparts will bring in some much-needed cash for the band and for Dr Evil a.k.a Simon Cowell.
I would like to take this opportunity to wish a very happy 150th birthday to the London Underground. It all began when the first train rolled out of Paddington Station back on January 9th in 1863. It now carries more than a million passengers each day across it’s 270 stations.
I am proud to say that it is also an organisation that I worked at for a large part of my working life. I worked for London Transport from 1975 to 1988 and then as a contractor with Transport for London from 2000 to 2004. So here are a couple of Underground related songs to help you ‘Mind The Gap‘ as you celebrate!
Does anyone fancy some stuffed Anaconda? Really? Well it’s quite mature, maybe 120 years and will only set you back £10,000. That’s a bargain if I ever saw one. Anyway I’m not talking about some strange delicacy to be eaten, I’m referring to Albert the stuffed Anaconda who lives in the Ansel Library at the Foreign Office in London. Well, when I say lives I really mean that he is hung from the wall. He has been dead for some time. He’s not just resting, he is indeed and ex Anaconda.
Albert was a gift to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office some time in the late 1800s after he had received the full services of a taxidermist. Albert was allegedly presented by a bishop, in what is now Guyana, to the Colonial Secretary sometime in the 19th Century. As such he is in fact a Foreign Office asset and therefore need to be maintained. This news came to light following a request by the Guido Fawkes website via the Freedom of Information Act.
In my opinion this money could easily have been spent somewhere else and Albert could have been scrapped, buried or given a seat in parliament. I find it incredible that in these times of austerity so much money could have been spent on a dead snake! We are living in a time where budgets are constricted with venom and politicians are rattled! Did the cabinet hold a COBRA meeting? What do you think of stuffed Albert? Could we not have made a few pairs of shoes for the homeless from Albert’s skin or bailed out our local Greek kebab shop?
Click here to read the story of Albert on the BBC. Of course this is a music blog so please enjoy a few snake related songs;