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.
Already we’re into double figures in December. How did it get to become December 10th so quickly? Anyway that means that it is now Day ten in my advent calendar blog posts. The theme this year is the ABC of British Bands for those of you who are not regular readers? What’s that I hear you say? You’re not a regular reader? In that case feel free to sign up and join the millions of others who read this blog everyday! OK so I exaggerated, sign up and join the few hundred that come here everyday. More importantly join the 700+ who actually follow it. December 10th means it’s day 10, which in turn means that we have reached the letter ‘J’. Who will it be? That’s easy, it’s Jamiroquai.
The band was formed in 1992. The lead singer and main man of the band is Jason Luis Cheetham, although I’m sure that you know him better as the crazy hat wearing Jay Kay. His mother Karen Kay was a television personality in the UK and a cabaret singer. Jay Kay originally started the band along with Toby Smith, Stuart Zender, Nick Van Gelder and Wallis Buchanan. They played keyboards, bass, drums and didgeridoo respectively. Has there ever been another British band that featured a didgeridoo player? Well let’s not count disgraceful kiddie fiddler any longer. The band’s name comes from an amalgamation of jam session and the Iroquois tribe of North America.
Some of Jay Kay’s hats were made by his mother and emulating her TV career he has also appeared on many TV shows including Top Gear, Strictly Come Dancing, The Naked Chef and the X-Factor. The band had three UK number one albums between 1993 and 2001. Their albums have also hit the top of the charts in Mexico, Italy, Germany, Netherlands, Switzerland, Austria and in the US Dance Chart. Their only UK number on single so far has been “Deeper Underground” from 1998. The song appeared on the soundtrack for that years ‘Godzilla’ film. They have been very popular across Europe and have had number one singles in four other countries in addition to the UK. They also climbed to the top of the US Dance Singles chart an impressive five times between 1994 and 2006.
Now it is time for you to enjoy a selection of classic Jamiroquai cuts. I hope that you enjoy them.
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!
Did you know that the Beatles released one single that none of the band played on? It’s kind of obvious when you think about it. The song is “Eleanor Rigby” which was released on the same single as “Yellow Submarine” in 1966. It reached number one in many countries including the UK, Canada, Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, Norway, Australia and Austria. The musicians who played on the track were;
On Violin – Tony Gilbert, Sidney Sax, John Sharpe and Juergen Hess.
On Viola – Stephen Shingles and John Underwood
On Cello – Derek Simpson and Norman Jones.
It makes you wonder how many other bands didn’t play on their big hits. It would be fair to assume that the likes of the Bay City Rollers, Westlife, Boyzone, the majority of X Factor muppets and many others didn’t play on any of their hits wouldn’t it? But then again even Ringo didn’t feature on the Beatles initially released version of “Love Me Do” in 1962. Sid Vicious‘ bass playing featured on hardly any Sex Pistols recordings, most of those were completed by Glen Matlock or Steve Jones. Listening to some bootlegs of the band from late 1977 to the ill-fated US tour of January 1978 suggests that there was a good reason Sid didn’t contribute bass to many songs, he just wasn’t very good at it!
Blur, who have been a little inactive on the new music front recently launched some new merchandise which you can buy on-line. Is it branded trainers, hoodies, t-shirts, baseball caps and the like? No, it’s a tea set, beer mats and flat caps. Better hurry up if you want a Blur tea set though, apparently only 300 were made. Click here to get yours. Blimey next they’ll be selling whippets named after the band members and maybe branded pipes and slippers. What other random merchandising can we expect? Cup cakes from Ozzy Osbourne, BingoWings.com on-line bingo from Madonna, X-Factor ear plugs made from Matt Cardle’s ear wax, Robbie Williams and One Direction toilet paper, Olly Murs manure? All your suggestions would be very gratefully received.
Have you been pestered by teenage carol singers with shite voices yet? I saw some on the way home from work but I think the weather was a tad too inclement for them! But I’m sure the greedy untalented little gits will be back. Greedy, untalented little gits? I could have been talking about the majority of X Factor contestants there couldn’t I? Anyway we really are sliding down the slope towards Christmas now, it’s 20th December! So that means it’s day 20 of the With Just A Hint Of Mayhem Advent posts and you know you’ll be getting two songs with twenty in their titles.
T.Rex are first up with the magnificent “20th Century Boy” a UK number 3 hit from 1973. The song hit the top of the charts in Ireland. It was the penultimate single in a run of 11 UK top 4 hits between 1970 and 1973 which included four number ones. In fact Bolan and T Rex never made the UK top 10 after 1973 let alone the top 5. “20th Century Boy” was not taken from a T Rex album but it was included on a reissue of the ‘Tanx’ album which was originally released in 1973. The song was used as the soundtrack to a Levi’s Jeans ad campaign in 1991. It was re-released to accompany that and made it back into the UK chart where it peaked at number 13. Siouxse and the Banshees, Girlschool, Adam Ant, Def Leppard and Placebo have all covered this T Rex classic. Placebo performed the song live at the 1999 Brit Awards with David Bowie.
From a song featuring the late, great Marc Bolan let me now take you to a song from the late, great Eddie Cochran, “Twenty Flight Rock”. Cochran can be seen performing the song in the 1956 film ‘The Girl Can’t Help It’ and it was released as a single in 1957. It was this Cochran song that a 15-year-old Paul McCartney played as part of his audition for John Lennon which led to him becoming one of the Quarrymen. McCartney has said that he thought that what impressed Lennon the most was that he knew all the words. Many artists have covered the song including Robert Gordon, Rolling Stones, the Stray Cats and Commander Cody And His Lost Planet Airmen.
Well that’s it, the first week of December is almost over and now it’s just over eighteen days until the big old bloke in the red coat parks his venison on your roof and somehow manages to squeeze his excessive girth down your chimney! That means of course that today is December 7th and that in turn means that todays choices that sit behind the advent calendar door feature the number seven in their titles.
First I bring you the mighty Queen with a magnificent slice of rock, “Seven Seas Of Rhye” taken from the album ‘Queen II‘. It was the bands first single and their first UK hit. It reached number ten in 1974 which was far better than their first two singles none of which charted. They were “Keep Yourself Alive” and “Liar”. It was the success of “Seven Seas Of Rhye” that supposedly inspired Freddie Mercury to take up Queen as his full-time job. The band made their first Top Of The Pops appearance performing the song in February 1974. The album version of the song fades into a few people singing an old British Music Hall song; “I Do Like To Be Beside The Seaside”. It was written by John A Glover-Kind and first recorded by Mark Sheridan in 1909.
The second song for today remains one of my favourites. It is “Seven Nation Army” by the White Stripes. Is this perhaps Jack White’s finest hour so far? Very possibly in my opinion. It was released in 2003 and comes from the album ‘Elephant’. It reached number 7 in the UK chart, number 4 in Germany and number 3 in Italy. While it only made it to number 76 on the US Billboard chart it did climb to number one on the US Alternative Songs chart. It became their second biggest UK hit after “Icky Thump” from 2007. “Seven Nation Army” which was written by Jack White has been covered by many artists including; Living Colour, Flaming Lips, Metallica, Alice Russel, the Oak Ridge Boys, Kate Nash and Kelly Clarkson. It was also massacred (in my opinion) by X Factor runner-up Marcus Collins in 2012.
Let’s face it most new Christmas songs in recent years have been pretty shit haven’t they? You can almost hear the sound of the barrel being scraped with some Christmas albums as well. Leona Lewis another short-lived X Factor success has one out this year. I reckon that will go from stocking filler on a small-scale this year to the charity shop or the recycling plant next year.
But trust me all is not lost. Those feisty, punky and talented girls known to the world have released a Christmas song as part of the magnificent Kate Nash‘s first ever Christmas release, an EP entitled “Have Faith With Kate Nash This Christmas”. The Tuts contribution is called “Christmas Is In The Air”. It starts off in an acoustic vein, probably just to lullaby you into a false sense of security. But then it comes to life stupendously with a rather spiffing chorus. I loved this song after the first listen and it will definitely be on my Christmas playlist. The video is darned good too. Special guests include Colour Me Wednesday and a festive jumper sported by Nadia Tut that probably should never be allowed out on it’s own. Enjoy the video, listen to the song and then buy the EP ok? I know where Santa’s Evil Elves live and if I find out that you haven’t bought the EP I will send them to your house. You wouldn’t want me to do that would you? TUTS ROOL YULE OK!
Geri meets 3 of the 393 people that bought her new single
Once upon a time she was one fifth of the pop world conquering Spice Girls who sold their songs by the Starship load. Nowadays Geri Halliwell a.k.a. Ginger Spice is selling barely enough CDs (ok I recognise that many are probably downloads these days) for one person to carry. Geri’s new single in Australia, “Half Of Me” sold just 393 copies in its first week. To be fair that is probably 392 more than perhaps a new Victoria Beckham single would sell.
Geri celebrates after the first six copies of her new single had been sold
Anyway it seems that Geri is taking it reasonably well. She decided not to perform the song on the Australia’s Got Talent Final TV show. Instead she performed a version of the Spice Girls first hit “Wannabe”. She admitted that deep down she was gutted. In contrast the Australian number one single, “Alive” by Aussie X Factor winner Dami Im sold 44,000 in the same period. Click here to read the story on the BBC.
Geri spends all the profits from the sales of her new single on a cab ride across the road
It’s clearly a long way from those heady days of her early solo career where she achieved four UK number ones; “Mi Chico Latino“, “Lift Me Up”, “Bag It Up” and an atrocious cover version (in my opinion) of the Weather Girls disco classic “It’s Raining Men“. The latter was also number one in Belgium, France, Ireland and Italy. She has never had an Australian number one solo single though and with “Half Of Me” only making it to number 281 that seems unlikely to change. Her biggest solo hit in the land down under was her first single “Look At Me” which made it to number 3 in 1999. Should we start a campaign to have “Half Of Me” adopted as the anti X Factor Christmas number 1 in the UK this year? No I didn’t think you’d go for that either!
We’ve made it to day 2 once again and so has the rain. But it wasn’t too bad when we arrived and we have never let the weather dampen our spirits before so we won’t this weekend either. We had earlier decided to spend most of the day in the NME/ Radio 1 tent; not because of the weather though. It was what looked like a great line up that drew us in. Was it a great line up in reality? Well you’re going to have to read on to find out aren’t you.
Sadly we missed Childhood (that’s the band and not our formative years). But we arrived in plenty of time to see the very fresh and very funky Theme Park. If you owned a giant blender that blended music you would need to add Talking Heads, Haircut 100, Fine Young Canibals and a dash of x factor to create this excellent band. I mean the true x factor, not the shit peddled by ITV in the disguise of a talent show. I can feel a Theme Park download or two coming on when I get home.
Then from New York we had the very original Darwin Deez. From their boy band/ Motown formation funky dancing routine interludes to their gutsy, funky, dirty rock sound they were tremendous. The crowd, including me and my good friend Nick loved them. If you have not heard them yet then you really should check them out because deez boyz are good. (Sorry I couldn’t resist that). Deaf Havana were the next band to arrive and oh boy did they arrive with a bang. Their lead singer told us at one point that they made honest music, i.e. without backing tracks. So for today these are my first does what it says on the tin act. They have energy, funk (we have seen a lot of that this year so far), style, great songs and a really tight band. Their album comes out next month and I for one will be downloading it. Deaf Havana; not deaf, not from Havana, but for being such a great live band they deserve the finest cigars Cuba can offer.
Were Deaf Havana referring to Modestep when they talked about honest music and not using backing tracks? Possibly not but Modestep did use a lot of preprogrammed backing and samples. But let me clear this is not a band into lip synching. They had the deepest bass sound of the festival so far. It was so deep you could feel your internal organs start to melt. They were also incredibly loud. They really used the full power of smoke and pyrotechnic flame bursts too. For me they ought to be in the Guinness Book of Records for the most mentions of Reading in their interaction with the crowd. If I had to describe their sound I would say it suggest the kind of noise you might hear if the Prodigy had a bum sex orgy with Enter Shikari while being filmed by Lemmy Kilminster. Incidentally they seem to have a fanatically loyal following and the tent was packed very tight. Especially when the circle pits broke out. They were very good, but not the sort of band I would listen to outside the confines of a festival. But they probably had the most energetic crowd of the day too. Interestingly like many bands appearing in recent years they used to come to this festival as punters.
The Palma Violets were lively and punky and were clearly up for a good time and they gave us all a great time. Similar to Modestep these guys were festival goers who in fact met here four years ago at camp site Yellow 7. Is there anyone there this year who will be on stage in a few years? If they are this good then let’s hope so. You would n,t see this bunch as a blues band but I was interested to see that one of their vocalists was sporting a B B King t-shirt. You don’t get many of those at Reading do you? I would advise you to check out the Palma Violets, you won’t be disappointed. Can I ask who is Harry Violet please?
One of the acts I had been looking forward to this year was Johnny Marr, or according to a t-shirt I saw Johnny Fucking Marr. This was does what it says on the tin moment number 2 for me today. Although Johnny has a much bigger tin to draw from than many others. His new solo stuff sounds pretty fresh and vibrant. He also played a great cover of “I Fought The Law”. But of course this crowd was by far the most middle-aged of the day and there were mass outbreaks of Morrissey-like Dad dancing throughout the set especially when Johnny played a few songs from a band he once was in. You might have heard of them, they were called the Smiths! He played a number of Smiths songs including “Stop Me If You Heard This One Before”, “Big Mouth Strikes Again”, “How Soon Is Now”, “This Charming Man” and the set closer was a really heartfelt version of the delectable “There Is A Light That Never Goes Out”. This had us all singing along at the top of our lungs. On the count of three now, ‘if a double-decker bus crashes into us…….’
How had the Imagine Dragons had passed me by up to now I do not know. But I am glad I have found them now. They could be the most percussive band on the planet right now. There are elements of Arcade Fire and the Killers in their sound. They are in fact from Las Vegas just like the Killers. Their songs are powerful, catchy and memorable. I may just have to download their album as well. I would definitely pay to see these guys again as you should! What can I say about Tame Impala? They certainly seemed to channel Pink Floyd with a blend of dance music. Their psychedelic screen shows were brilliant. Their lighting almost suggests that they don’t really want to be seen. Their sound is based around extended psychedelic wig-outs wer excellent but it does make you wonder how the hell they rehearse their stuff. A fab band though.
Someone else I was looking forward to seeing, having seen him in York earlier this year was Jake Bugg. He did not disappoint he played a great selection from his first album and a couple of new songs that will probably form a part of his second. His acoustic version of “Broken” was emotional and incredible. Was there anyone who was not singing along? I doubt it. He also played a storming cover of Neil Young’s “Hey Hey My My”. Which magnificently made up for Neil cancelling on me last weekend. I am looking forward even more to Jake’s second album even more now. If you have never heard Jake Bugg, then where the bloody hell have you been?
Just after Jake Nick and I were joined by a woman who we believe was very much under the influence of something; more likely substance than alcohol. Her name was Amy and she decided that Nick and I were her new best mates. Her 14-year-old daughter and her niece were also at the festival but she seemed to have no idea where and no idea as to how to contact them. Nick was going to stay to watch Alt-J (and incidentally he tells me they were fantastic, really energetic and the crowd loved them) and I was going to the main stage for Eminem. Amy wasn’t going anywhere on her own and I drew the short straw as she accompanied me to see Mr Mathers. In fact she stayed with us until we left the arena; we left her at the taxi rank. Amy we hope that you got home ok. Anyway back to the music. I missed the first part of Eminem’s set as it clashed with Mr Bugg. But what I did see was fantastic. When I saw him here in 2002 I was a little disappointed and I felt that he could have been better. He was so much better this year. All the hits were there; including a great version of “Stan” with an appearance from Dido to reprise her previously sampled vocal live. The pinnacle of Marshall’s performance though was the encore and closer “Lose Yourself”. How good is that song? So we’re now two-thirds of the way through the 2013 festival and it has been superb so far. Bring on day 3.