Well today is December 15th and therefore Day 15 in this years advent calendar blog posts. The fifteenth letter of the alphabet is very obviously ‘O’ and today I will being doing something which might surprise many regular readers. Todays entry in the ABC of British bands is One Direction, although I still like to refer to them as Wand Erection.
The band members are Niall Horan, Zayn Malik, Liam Payne, Harry Styles and Louis Tomlinson. They came to prominence via the X-Factor in 2010 when they finished third in the contest. They all entered the contest as solo artists but didn’t make the cut until Simon Cowell saw the benefit of bringing them together. Matt Cardle won the contest that year while Rebecca Ferguson was in second place.
1D have smashed chart records across the world, notably in the USA where they are the first band ever to have their first four albums reach number one on the Billboard chart. The record of the first three albums hitting the top of the US album chart was held by…… yes you guessed it, One Direction. Surprisingly for a boy band they have had more success in the albums chart than in the singles chart. They have had only three UK number one singles and none in the USA. They have had number one singles in Denmark, Netherlands, New Zealand and Ireland.
They are certainly a manufactured boy band but perhaps not as controlled as the likes of Westlife. There isn’t much in the way of choreographed dance routines and insipid covers of old ballads. Having a watched a bit of footage in preparation for this post they seem to be pretty good live performers (Fuck! Did I really say that?). I thought that their performance of “Steal My Girl” at the BBC Music Awards 2014 was among the better showings on the night.
Did you know that Liam has a strange fear of spoons? Or that Niall is not a big reader and that he once said that the only book that he had ever read was To Kill A Mockingbird? Harry Styles apparently wanted to be a lawyer before the bands X-Factor success. Rather fittingly for these advent calendar posts Louis was born on Christmas Eve. Zayn has a tattoo in arabic on his collar bone, the English translation is ‘be true to who you are’ OK that’s enough from me now feel free to enjoy a selection of Wand Erection’s finest.
One Direction have just had the highest début entry by a UK act in the US chart for 14 years. Their former UK number one “What Makes You Beautiful” entered the US chart at number 28 this week. The last UK act to do better with their début US hit was Jimmy Ray with “Are You Jimmy Ray ?” back in 1998. They went on to be a one hit wonder as far as the US is concerned. Hopefully that’ll be the case with X Factor pop muppets One Direction as well.
I feel embarrassed that the Americans believe that acts like One Direction are at the cutting edge of our cultural output. If you’re listening across the pond they’re not that good really ok? That will probably fall on deaf ears, after all this is a country that elected a born again Christian, reformed alcoholic, rich hillbilly, village idiot for a second term as President!
The Spice Girls established their worldwide phenomenon credentials with their début US hit “Wannabe” in 1997. That single entered the US chart at number 11 and powered its way to the top where it stayed for four weeks. Let’s hope that One Direction’s trajectory is down. Of all the great bands and singers we have in the UK I find it quite depressing that manufactured crap like One Direction is so successful in the USA.
On a more talented note Adele continues to own the US album chart with her second album ’21’ now having spent an appropriate 21 weeks on the top spot. She even managed to keep Whitney Houston’s Greatest Hits off the top, now that really is some feat! Adele’s album has now sold more than 18 million copies worldwide and holds the record for the most weeks at number one in the US by a female artist. By strange coincidence it replaced Whitney Houston’s soundtrack to ‘The Bodyguard‘
It’s that time of year again, the annual celebration and all round back slap of the UK music industry that is the Brits. There are 46 nominees this year including Adele who comes to the party already the proud owner of six Grammys. In a slight departure from my live typing last year I am doing this from the recording of the show. This meant I was able to spend a great night with Catwoman and some of our best friends and their lovely daughter Amelia. (Incidentally if you’d like to read the blog I write monthly for Amelia just click here)
So on with the show. A great and bombastic opener, “Charlie” from Coldplay. As with last year the event is presented by James Corden. The little clips introducing the best album nominees began with Adele’s ’21’ which is appropriately enough the best-selling album in the UK so far this century. As expected there was a film montage in memory of Whitney Houston which preceded the live appearance of Florence and the Machine. I am always blown away by that girl’s voice and tonight was no exception with a superb performance of “No Light No Light”. She seemed encased in a white light prison at one point. A prism prison if you will!
The first award was for Best British Female, presented by the beautifully proportioned Kylie Minogue. Whilst I would have liked to have seen Kate Bush win it there was really no surprise to see Adele be announced as a very worthy winner. She gave a really amusing acceptance speech including suggesting that she felt like a drag queen next to Kylie. The Best International Male award was presented by Jessie J and Jack Whitehall (who the fuck is he?) The winner was Bruno Mars with a bouffant hair do that seemed to add about a foot to his stature. His thank you speech was probably the blandest and least controversial there has ever been at the Brits.
The next live act was Olly Murs with the Rizzle Kicks. This is a real dilemma for me, I love the Rizzle Kicks but Olly Murs voice makes me want to eat my cats vomit with a side order of fresh road kill. It was a big dance production of Olly’s “My Heart Skips A Beat” including an attempt at Murs robotic dancing. At least his Mum and Simon Cowell would be proud of him.
The Critics Choice award went to Emeli Sande and was known in advance, this was given to the wonderful Jessie J last year. Mr Ed Sheerhan was the next turn to take to the stage with a wonderfully sparse version of his superb song “Lego House”. Just how good was that? The next award was for Best British Single presented by the immensely talented Tinie Tempah. Sadly the winner was the rather insipid attempt at anthemic; “What Makes You Beautiful” from X Factor Pop Muppets One Direction. Did they get dressed in a James Bond costume shop?
Jenson Button was chosen to present the award for International Female, not for his musical talents presumably. Still he’d make a better James Bond than One Direction, probably a better singer too. The award went to Rihanna, possibly one of the sexiest women on the planet in my opinion. To make up spectacularly for Olly Murs Noel Gallagher appeared with his High Flying Birds with the stupendous “AKA What A Life” with Chris Martin off of Coldplay on keyboards. I think it’s now very clear that Noel was and is the more talented Gallagher brother.
Next was a tribute to Amy Winehouse. Quite fittingly interspersing some of her brilliant songs with some great interview clips all shown in black and white. Losing Whitney was very sad but losing Amy was a tragedy. Best British Male was the next gong and it was presented by the sharp dressed and edgy Plan B. The award went to Ed Sheerhan who has now ditched the green T Shirt for a suit and tie.
Huey Morgan and Jo Whiley presented the Best British Group award. This one has been taken home by Coldplay twice before (in 2001 and 2003) and this year they make it a third. It was voted for by BBC Radio Two listeners. A really sincere acceptance speech though. James Corden then interviewed, very briefly, Kylie Minogue. He really should stick to his day job! The stage was owned by Adele for the next live performance, a storming “Rolling In The Deep”. She looked stunning, I wonder if that pretentious twat Karl Lagerfeld was watching.
The International Group award was presented by two of the remaining members of Queen, Brian May and Roger Taylor. The Foo Fighters were very worthy winners and were the first recipients of the evening not able to be there to collect their award. They did supply a great little video clip though. Nicole Scherzinger was joined by none other than musical superstar, sorry I meant football superstar Cesc Fabregas to present the Best Breakthrough act award. It was the second of the night for Ed Sheerhan. An interesting acceptance speech, apparently his manager could do with a new sofa.
Bruno Mars performed “Just The Way You Are” dressed like a tuxedoed James Bond lookalike. Except that the hair is probably an explosive secret weapon presented to this pint-sized warbler by Bond Boffin Q. Then we had another awkward Corden interview, this time with the prepubescent One Direction. A bizarre pairing of Rob Brydon and Will.i.Am presented the Best International Breakthrough act which unsurprisingly went to the talented and somewhat astral Lana Del Ray. She also won the award for blubbiest acceptance speech of the night, but I do love her album.
“We Found Love” from Rihanna was a live performance to be reckoned with. Only she could make a kind of painters smock sexy whilst performing in front of a gang of dancing painter decorators. Her hair had grown immeasurably from her earlier appearance. Has she taken the same follicle elixir as Bruno Mars or was it just a really classy syrup?
Finally it came to Ray Winstone to present the Outstanding Contribution To Music Award to Blur aka Graham, Dave , Alex and Damon. Next was the MasterCard British Album of the year award, presented by the man with talent oozing out of his pockets, George Michael. This had Adele’s name on it months ago didn’t it? That girl will need a bigger shelf for all these awards. How the fuck did they end up curtailing her acceptance speech in such an abrupt way.
Blur were on stage to close the show kicking off their set with “Girls And Boys” and then appropriately “Song 2”. They were then joined on stage by Phil Daniels for a great rendition of “Parklife” Sadly that is where the TV coverage ended, I would love to have seen the whole set from Blur. I hear that they finished off with “Tender” and “This Is A Low”, but somehow I imagine this was quite a high for them!