Archives for November 2008

Chart Report - 30/11/08 (With DVD Extras)

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Fraser McAlpine | 20:27 UK time, Sunday, 30 November 2008

Fearne & ReggieWould it spoil the surprise too much if I told you that today's Radio 1 Chart Show guest is celebrating a very high new entry? OK, well, let's just say that when Fearne and Reggie rang Jason Orange out of Take That, they already knew that he would be in a good mood, and not just because he's a nice bloke who doesn't seem remotely prone to diva strops or anything like that.

Although, he did have to do a bit more work than he was bargaining for, so it's probably just as well they opened with the congratulations, eh?

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Enrique Iglesias ft. Sean Garrett - 'Away'

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Fraser McAlpine | 09:17 UK time, Saturday, 29 November 2008

Enrique IglesiasOh for goodness sake, stop snivelling, the pair of you. You'll get snot all down your expensive shirts, and you're making a joint spectacle of yourselves. Try and control that breathing, just focus on breathing in...then out...now in....and out...

That's better. Now what was that all about, hmm? I mean sure, the girls like a sensitive man, but you two really take the biscuit. In fact, you, Mr Iglesias, take the biscuit, the biscuit tin, the cupboard above the kettle, the kitchen, the house, most of the street...AND all of the gateposts.

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Indie Stars: Buck Up Your Ideas!

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Fraser McAlpine | 17:58 UK time, Friday, 28 November 2008

Empire Of The Sun

See these fellas? They're called Empire Of The Sun. The chap with the hat on is Luke Steele, who proper indie-boffins will know better as the main man in the Sleepy Jackson. Empire Of The Sun is one of those side-projects that people in bands do from time to time, a bit like Andy from Razorlight's solo album, or Gary Barlow doing the Britannia High songs.

What you will notice from even the briefest glance is that they are not the Enemy, and the way they have opted to show this is to hit the dressing up box with a vengeance. Something which, frankly, not enough people in music do.

It's one thing to brag about singing to The Kids about things which happen on The Street, but there are other things, other people and other places to sing about, surely? And this is where dressing like idiots comes in very handy.

So, because they are displaying a bit of imagination, because they have ideas which are not rooted in everyday life, and because they are clearly Making The Effort, I decided to have a chat with Luke about all this stuff.

He's an extremely laid back man, it's fair to say. But there are ideas in here which may be food for thought to any band looking to make a bit of a splash...

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Wiley ft. Daniel Merriweather - 'Ca$h In My Pocket'

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Fraser McAlpine | 09:47 UK time, Friday, 28 November 2008

WileyLet's get the public service problem out of the way first. Wiley's record company are running a web competition to do with the video to this song, in which a bunch of bankers mime along to the song in a funny way. You're invited to make similar videos (and a bunch of people already have) and the winning video gets a big wedge of, yes, you guessed it, cash in their pocket, as a prize.

I'm fairly sure the Daily Mail won't explode if I mention this, but just in case anyone is about to go all OffCom on my ass, can I just say I'd have been reviewing this song anyway, and that I heartily advise anyone who doesn't really want to enter the competition to stay the heck away from the video camera. Showing off is only to be attempted by people who are compelled to do it, which is presumably why Wiley has failed to appear in his second promotional video in a row.

But DO listen to the song, because it is SMASHING.

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Fun With Press Releases No.20

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Fraser McAlpine | 18:25 UK time, Thursday, 27 November 2008

Press releases

The Killers - 'Day & Age'

"The album was another multi-platinum hit that saw the band cemented their position as one of American's biggest musical exports and won the band two Brit Awards in 2006 at a ceremony in which their fire-drenched performance of #2 single 'When You Were Young' was the highlight of the ceremony."

a) Don't read this out loud, you will asphyxiate.
b) Does anyone else feel this would be better if it ended "...and then they woke up and it was all a dream. THE END."

www.thekillers.co.uk

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Akon - 'Right Now (Na Na Na)'

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Fraser McAlpine | 10:29 UK time, Thursday, 27 November 2008

AkonI have quite liked Akon songs in the past, particularly the ones which seem to come from the heart and not from the middle of some giant whirring self-consciousness machine which demands extravagent claims of total sexual omnipotence or its cogs go all sticky.

I mean, sure, all of popular music is based on the thought that if you, the listener, would just listen for a second, I, the singer, will be happy to administer the Good Lovin', but Akon can sometimes be a little too keen on defining exactly what this may mean, to an almost biological level. Its not always a nice thing to hear, especially if you're elbows deep in the washing up at the time..

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Top Of The Pops (Reprise)

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Fraser McAlpine | 14:22 UK time, Wednesday, 26 November 2008

TOTP Banner

After the fun and games surrounding the surprise return of the TOTP Christmas special last week, there has been a further development, although it is not a dramatic one.

A survey has been commissioned on behalf of a soft-drink company (no, not that one, another one) about British icons, institutions and traditions which are no longer around, but are sorely missed. 2003 people were polled, just a couple of weeks ago, and their answers have been made into a Top 10.

1: Village Post Offices - 58%
2: Sunday as a day of public rest - 41%
3: Red phone boxes - 41%
4: Concorde - 35%
5: Milkmen and their milk float - 26%
6: Top of the Pops - 20%
7: Old English Tearooms - 18%
8: £1 notes - 18%
9: Lollipop ladies - 17%
10: Vinyl records - 12%

Now, the very first thing you will notice is that this is clearly a poll of people who are over 18. By some years.

The second thing is that Top of the Pops is at No.6, with a bullet!

The third thing is that items seven and eight do rather undermine the righteous fury it is possible to feel about the removal of, say item one, or item four. And I say this as someone who does actually remember £1 notes. They were rubbish.

The fourth thing is that you can still get vinyl records.

Still, let's hope 'the powers that be' see sense and restore everything on this list (except those £1 notes) to The People by next week. Otherwise we're going to hell in a handcart. You couldn't make it up. Etc.

Florence & The Machine - 'Dog Days'

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Fraser McAlpine | 09:18 UK time, Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Florence & The MachineUkuleles are funny little things, aren't they? They look like a guitar, but sound closer to a harp, albeit a quiet harp which is probably being strummed frantically by a busker in a rotating bow-tie. And did you know that the instrument George Formby* played wasn't technically a ukulele at all? It has the body of a banjo, you see, so the vibrations from the bridge (the bit near the strumming hand where the strings rest) travel down onto a drum skin, rather than a wooden sound-board, as is the case in a 'proper' uke.

People tend to refer to that instrument as a banjo-lele, to reflect its hybrid nature. There's also a banjo-lin (same idea, but with a mandolin), a banj-itar (guitar) and even a double bass version, although it would be quite a hard one to come up with a hybrid name for, that. My best guess would be banjass, which can't be right.

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Estelle ft. Sean Paul - 'Come Over'

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Fraser McAlpine | 20:06 UK time, Tuesday, 25 November 2008

EstelleDo you know, I was only wondering the other day whatever happened to Sean Paul. For one hot year he was on everyone's records - from Beyonce to Westlife and back, probably - in much the same way that Akon is now, and then suddenly, without so much as a magical puff of smoke, he disappeared. And now look, Estelle has only gone and found him, brushed the cobwebs off (missed a few big ones down the back of his head there, Esty), and resurrected him for chart use. Isn't she lovely?

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Jonas Brothers - 'Love Bug'

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Fraser McAlpine | 10:15 UK time, Monday, 24 November 2008

Jonas BrothersIt's always annoying for a reviewer when you have an editorial slant all set up in your head and the single then, for whatever reason, resolutely fails to fit in. For example, a friend of mine inspired the line "Jonas and the Fail" this week, which I thought would be cracking material if this song turned out to be awful, only for me to discover that it's...actually pretty decent. Dammit.

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Chart Report - 23/11/08

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Fraser McAlpine | 20:58 UK time, Sunday, 23 November 2008

Top 5 High 5

All you need to do is answer 'High 5!' if you approve of this week's Top 5, and 'Denied!' if you don't.

And here is that Top 5 once again in talkywordingform...

1: Beyonce - 'If I Were A Boy'
2: X-Factor Finalists - 'Hero'
3: The Killers - 'Human'
4: TI ft. Rihanna - 'Live Your Life'
5: Katy Perry - 'Hot 'n' Cold'

The Top 40 is also available in website form...
And Listen Again form...
And don't forget the Chart Show Podcast.

Will Young - 'Grace'

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Fraser McAlpine | 10:08 UK time, Sunday, 23 November 2008

Will YoungWait, wait...Will Young has released a single called 'Grace'? WILL...and...GRACE? That's astonishing.

It's not even like this is a Cher-tastic disco classic, an ode to what it is like to be a gay New York lawyer with a designer bezzy mate-tress and some other friends who only seem to have half a personality each. Will Young doesn't really do songs like that. Or at least, he hasn't yet...

Still, this thought will make me smile for a whole day. Think of the possibilities for radio DJs, who can announce the song and then play a snatch of the TV show's jazzy piano theme tune. They'll be pleased, their audience will be mildly entertained, and Lord knows Will Young won't mind. Everyone's a winner.

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Career Opportunities

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Fraser McAlpine | 17:05 UK time, Saturday, 22 November 2008

Justin Timberlake - You want cucumber with that?

it's been a standard interview question for pop stars ever since Elvis quit his job driving trucks - what would you do if you weren't a pop star, or trying to become a pop star? And the answers have always been a little strange. Usually the interviewee will say something along the lines of "I couldn't do anything else, this is all I'm good at", which is fine, except that most pop stars don't get to stay in the public eye forever, so at some point they have to find other things to BE good at, or have such amazing royalty cheques that this problem does not arise.

So, what do you think your favourite pop person would end up doing if the hits dried up tomorrow. More to the point, what would they have HAD to do, if they'd never had any hits in the first place?

Take Justin here. With his winning smile and immaculate manners, a career in a people-facing business such as retail is surely his for the taking. He would certainly have no trouble drumming up regular custom, and would only have to watch his (sexy) back in case some jealous boyfriend decided to smash the front window of his shop, after one too many flirty remarks while handing over the cheeseball sub.

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I Don't Feel Like Dancing

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Fraser McAlpine | 16:29 UK time, Friday, 21 November 2008

This Chartblog post is brought to you by failing to remember what it is I was supposed to be doing...

It started out as a mild problem. How to review the new Chris Brown single when I can't find an embeddable version of the video (yeah! Way to stick to to bootleggers, The Record Company). And as if often the case with certain video-based websites, once you start looking for something, you often find other things which are FAR more interesting, and get sidetracked.

So, here's dance troupe Eketc dancing to Chris Brown ft. Keri Hilson's 'Superhuman' in a way that makes me wish I was talented. In any way, shape or form...

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Pussycat Dolls - 'I Hate This Part'

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Fraser McAlpine | 10:18 UK time, Friday, 21 November 2008

Pussycat DollsIt must get so tiring singing about how sexy you are all the time. Tiring for you and tiring for the important people in your life. I mean sure, as a topic of conversation, it does have its place, and it's not as if people expect the Pussycat Dolls to be really good with advice if you need to change a plug, but still, imagine Nicole Scherzinger fetching you your breakfast...

Nicole: "I know what you want, I know what you need and I got it for ya, right here..."
You: [yawning] "Er yeah, cornflakes for me, please. And is there any tea in the pot?"
Nicole:"Ohhh yeahhhh, I got the hot tea cookin' up for ya in my pot, don't ya wanna come on over? Are you lickin' your lips?"
You: "Ah, forget it, I'll have toast"
Nicole:"Sexy hot toast?"
You: "I'm going out now...bye!"

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Top Of The Pops - Back From The Dead...ish

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Fraser McAlpine | 16:24 UK time, Thursday, 20 November 2008

TOTP Banner

Well, what a day I've had! Exciting things seem to be going on, and it's all to do with my old job, so forgive the personal details, as they are entirely relevant.

The Story So Far:
From 1998 until 2006, I worked on the Top Of The Pops website, a popular spin-off from the nation's favourite music TV show ever. Then the show was cancelled, then the site was cancelled, and ChartBlog was born.

You'll probably remember the end of TOTP. Since then, people like the Ting Tings or Andy Burnham, the minister for culture, have demanded that the show be put back on the air, but not really with any expectation that it would. It just seemed like a good thing to say, to wonder how hot new acts could measure their success, now that the kudos of their TOTP debut was out of the question.

Of course, the Pops was never entirely removed from our screens (and I'm not just talking about re-runs on Dave). At the time it was cancelled, press releases went out explaining that TOTP2 would keep mining the archives, and that the traditional TOTP Christmas Special would, of course, continue to be a mainstay of the festive scheduling. As important as the Queen's speech.

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Madonna - 'Miles Away'

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Fraser McAlpine | 09:30 UK time, Thursday, 20 November 2008

MadonnaAh! Now that we know what was really going on in the Ritchie household while 'Hard Candy' was being recorded, this song starts to make a lot more sense. It's not a fiction where the narrator notices that she tends to get on better with her boyf (or girlf, Madge is quite the Katy Perry fan after all) when they are a long way away from each other, it's an autobiographical account of why Madonna's marriage was DOOMED.

DOOMED, I TELL YOU!

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An Alternative Top 5

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Fraser McAlpine | 16:49 UK time, Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Next week, there's going to be a run of big singles hitting the CD racks, by some of the biggest names in popular song (and Same Difference); Britney, Takey, Madgey, Oasissy, McFlyey, Estelly, Pussycatty, TI ft Rihanny... All of which are damn near guaranteed to be enormous hit records.

This is clearly not news.

But what of the other songs, the ones which struggle to get attention because they are sung by people who, through no fault of their own, have yet to be hounded by gangs of paps or voted for by the public? Who is going to consider their feelings when their songs come out, only to be trampled in the dust by a herd of marauding pop stars (or to give them their Latin name, Mirrorkissus Wildebeatus)?

That's right. US!

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Oasis - 'I'm Outta Time'

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Fraser McAlpine | 09:27 UK time, Wednesday, 19 November 2008

OasisYou're outta time, y'say? That's so funny because I'm outta space. I think we may have an infestation of continuum pirates. Call the exterminators!*

Meanwhile, back on planet Oasis, it's still the late '60s, and the modern world has yet to arrive. This is why the beings known as 'mods' dress like old duffers, and listening to music in stereo is considered to be a revolution in sound. This is also why mellotrons are still considered to be very exciting new instruments, the internet is just a way of describing where to put a hooked fish, and texting is the name of a panda in a cowboy hat.

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McFly - 'Do Ya'

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Fraser McAlpine | 08:22 UK time, Tuesday, 18 November 2008

McFlyBrief clear-up here, before we get onto the actual review:

1. I am not saying the things I am about to say because this is a charity single; there are all kinds of wonderful implications to the fact that this is a charity single, from the worthiness of the cause to the fact that McFly don't *have* to use their huge record-shifting power to do charity work but consistently choose to. Still, our remit here on Chartblog is to review things simply because they chart.
2. Also, with regard to the things I am going to say here, I am not going to say them because the BBC is dumbing down, because I am not a "proper music fan" or because I do not know who Isis are.
3. Just to quickly get over this: this song is by McFly. If that really screws with your head, though, you could think of them as being called Marty, having beards and substitute the word 'pop' with 'art' whenever you deal with the question of what genre of rock they are.
4. THIS SONG IS AMAZING.

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Who Says Kids Today Have No Respect For Their Elders?

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Fraser McAlpine | 16:43 UK time, Monday, 17 November 2008

Shhh! I'm not really s'posed to be here today (long story, involving staying up all night on Friday pretending to be the Mona Lisa. Don't ask). But you have to see the new N-Dubz video for 'Papa', because it is great, and very sad.

PS: Anyone who thinks I'm only putting this up because of the father-related faux-pas I made when I interviewed Dappy is WAAY wrong, 'K? WAAAAY wrong. I mean like WAAAAAAAAAAAY, WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY wrong. Yeah?

*cough*

Same Difference - 'We R One'

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Fraser McAlpine | 11:07 UK time, Monday, 17 November 2008

Same DifferenceI don't care how many times Simon Cowell/Louis Walsh/Cheryl Cole tries to convince me otherwise (Dannii Minogue seems at least to have maintained a dignified silence on the subject), I don't consider this year's X Factor finalists to be any great shakes - to be honest, most of them are boring me rigid. The only fun I've had has been watching the sullen looks on the faces of people like Scott, Austin and Laura when they got voted out far earlier than they clearly expected to be. It's left me feeling nostalgic for last year when at least you had people like Rhydian and Same Difference to look forward to each week - acts whose performances were always something to talk about, be they good or bad.

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The Chart Show (Plus DVD Extras) - 16/11/08

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Fraser McAlpine | 21:11 UK time, Sunday, 16 November 2008

Reggie, Lemar and Fearne

When Celebrities Cuddle - Part 29341:

This week on the Radio 1 Chart Show, Lemar came into the studio to pay a visit to Fearne and Reggie, and, being the good hosts that they are, they decided that the best way to break the ice was to play a party game with him.

No, not musical chairs - although if there was anywhere in the world where the chairs would be musical, it's Radio 1. No, this was Lemar By Guitar, a game in which some of the Lemster's biggest hits were recreated in a rock style, with him having to work out a) which is which and b) what the hell is going on.

Sadly I have no clip to share with you (for health reasons as much as anything else), but it is all freely available on the the Chart Show Podcast. Don't say you haven't been warned!

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TI ft. Rihanna - 'Life Your Life'

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Fraser McAlpine | 10:13 UK time, Sunday, 16 November 2008

TI ft. RihannaThe Story So Far: In 2004, a band called O-Zone released a song called 'Dragostea Din Tei' with a cod-operatic, camp chorus. It got to No.3 here and was a big hit all over Europe. Then a boy called Gary Brolsma - who looks not unlike Gavin & Stacey's James Cordon, now I come to think about it - made a little film of himself dancing to it, while sitting at his desk. Watching him flail around became 2004/5's equivalent of Rick-Rolling, and he soon became famous. You can probably flick on any Freeview channel between the hours of 8 and 10pm, and see him going at it, while some sneering List TV smartarse mocks him for daring to enjoy himself in a confined space.

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Take That - 'The Greatest Day'

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Fraser McAlpine | 09:30 UK time, Saturday, 15 November 2008

Take ThatThat's right, Gary Barlow, this COULD be the greatest day of our lives, just as every day could be the greatest day of our lives, if the circumstances are right. What we would really need, just to put the cherry on the icing on the marzipan on the sherry puddle on the cake, is a song which reflects this. A song which lifts our already-soaring spirits up to the blazing sky, where cherubs and angels take their rainbow combs to tweak and tease our delight and excitement, until these things are woven deep into the very fabric of Heaven itself, forever more.

Have you got a song like that? And if so, do you think you could go back and get it?

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Let's Get One Thing Straight...

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Fraser McAlpine | 17:28 UK time, Friday, 14 November 2008

The video for the new Boyzone song 'Better' - a blimming BALLAD! - is a very interesting thing indeed. It depicts all five of the band caressing actors who are pretending to be their most loved person in the world. They are singing to these actors as if they love them. The band had originally wanted to use their actual partners in the video, but - brilliantly - they all said no, hence the actors.

You Boyzone fans will already know the Stephen Gately is gay, and so his bits are sung to a male actor. So far, so what, right?

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Christian Falk ft. Robyn - 'Dream On'

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Fraser McAlpine | 10:02 UK time, Friday, 14 November 2008

Robyn'K, so, beat from Groovejet by Spiller, emotionally entreating female vocal, one of those pulsing synth lines that's coming out of Sweden currently, lyrics about marginalised members of society, this must be a ...hey, what?

I'll be the first to admit that I have no idea what's going on here. Maybe to everyone else it's very obvious but personally, I am so deeply, deeply confused by this song. The instrumental elements are pretty and dance-y and Robyn sounds very lovely and empathic here, as opposed to her demonic ice queen act she sometimes pulls but (and I can't emphasise this enough) THE LYRICS MAKE NO SENSE.

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Perfect Playlist: Make Yourself Invincible!

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Fraser McAlpine | 18:06 UK time, Thursday, 13 November 2008

Lord Kitchener - Your ChartBlog Needs YouIt's been a dog's age since we did one of these, but now the winter nights are drawing in, noses are getting snotty and the threat of SAD hovers over us all, what we all need to work towards is a list of songs which will ward off evil spirits, lift sadness, banish gloom and generally arm the ChartBlog massive against bad things.

So, what I want from you is suggestions for songs which you always play when you need geeing up. Not necessarily songs which make you happy, cos we've already done that a bit, and besides, there are some songs you can only take when you're already halfway happy in the first place.

No, what I'm after is songs which make you feel unbeatable. The sort of song you put on the ipod when you're leaving the house in the morning, and it makes you grow an inch taller with every step you take. These are tough songs, aggressive songs, don't-mess-with-me songs. The kind of songs footballers would play before a big match. The kind of song students would play before a big exam. The kind of song shoppers would play before a big sale.

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John Barrowman - 'What About Us'

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Fraser McAlpine | 09:50 UK time, Thursday, 13 November 2008

John BarrowmanChalk this one up to experience, I guess - you're given a list of songs you have the option of reviewing, and of course you select the one by John Barrowman because you find his very existence intrinsically hilarious, so reviewing one of his songs ought to be a laff riot, right? Until you sit down to write the review and realise you now actually have to listen to it, and suddenly it doesn't seem quite as funny.

Anyway, I could go on for ages about the video (which features both a heterosexual couple and a homosexual couple, and is therefore the music video world's answer to Torchwood, or something), but that's not really what we're here for.

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Why Rock Music Is Bad For You

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Fraser McAlpine | 17:45 UK time, Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Oderus from GwarGuitar Hero fans, Rock Band addicts, moshtafarians...did you know that you are taking your life in your hands every time you crank up the metal? Are you aware of the long-term risks you are taking, just by playing loud, aggressive rock music? Do you know what dark forces you unleash every time you get your mosh on? You don't? Well, it would probably be a good idea if you read this stark warning, even if - as you rebellious rock types are prone to doing - you just flip the finger to the whole thing and go and sit on a bus with your iPod set to a Grandpa-irritatingly loud level.

It seems that an expert in the prevention of heart disease has discovered that too much loud aggressive music could put your arteries at risk. But only if the music makes you feel anxious.

(You could easily argue that it's actually feeling anxious which is bad for you, and not the music, but that's not what any of the news reports covering this story have done. Bear with me a second, we'll get to it)

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Nickelback - 'Gotta Be Somebody'

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Fraser McAlpine | 09:37 UK time, Wednesday, 12 November 2008

NickelbackOoh! Interesting diversion into Jonas Brothers territory, The 'Back! Apart from Chad Kroeger's distinctive mooey voice, this is your classic slightly disco-ey chest-beating rock anthem, the sort of thing which would be played at the romantic climax of a Disney Channel teen drama. You know the kind of thing, the girl finally gets to dance with her hot crushboy, after a series of unfortunate - but comic - misunderstandings.

First she thought he didn't even know she existed, then they bonded after being forced to work together on something, then she thought she saw him do something stupid, or insensitive, or she thought she overheard him call her a dweeb, and then she tipped pink milkshake over his head, and he stopped talking to her because she ruined his favourite T-shirt.

Finally he makes an extravagant gesture which partly humiliates him in front of his cool mates, and she drops the Miss Frosty act and they get to dance together at a party (and maybe even smooch a little...BUT ONLY A LITTLE). And this is the song they play.

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How To Destroy...Alphabeat

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Fraser McAlpine | 17:37 UK time, Tuesday, 11 November 2008

How To Destroy Alphabeat

NOTE: In the wake of certain notable events which have been in the news of recent weeks. the BBC would like to point out that blending people, even for the purposes of a stupid two-panel cartoon, is not a very nice thing to do.

In fact, if there was even the slightest chance that someone might see this, decide to set about a pop band with an Alphabeater, and then attempt to sell the resultant sludge for cooking purposes, well...that would be bad. Measures would have to be taken. Big ones.

Consider yourselves warned.

How To Destroy Other People...

The Killers - 'Human'

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Fraser McAlpine | 09:29 UK time, Tuesday, 11 November 2008

GUEST REVIEWER ALERT! - Fraser

The KillersIt's been 3 long, lonely years since we had our last proper Killers album (not including 'Sawdust', but I don't think that anyone really would) and the Vegas boys are back, having emerged from the Nevada desert with what they reassuringly claim is a 'new' sound. And as usual with these boys, a new sound demands a new wardrobe.

Gone are the days where Mr Flowers could simply get up in the morning, forget to shave, and talk about making a pile of bones, or people not looking like Jesus. Oh yes, long gone. Instead you see a newly-shaved Brandon tackling the really BIG topics. And as big topics go, you can't get much bigger than whether we are human or, in fact, dancer, right?

(And yes that is dancer, NOT denser, as had been previously sung by fans. No, that would mad, although it would also be amazing.)

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Time For Heroes...

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Fraser McAlpine | 16:08 UK time, Monday, 10 November 2008

Beyonce vs Wonder Woman

How many mirrors do you suppose Beyoncé has in her house? Just a few? Several? Flipping loads? I bet it's even more than that. Think about it, she's no stranger to extensive dance routines - and we all know that dancers enjoy a full-length mirror - she's very well turned-out at all times, and she has a very winning smile which is never, ever tainted by rogue strands of spinach or vanilla shrapnel. And now, with the release of her third solo album, fresh proof has emerged that the former Destiny's Child is now using her own reflection to help her make creative decisions.

What else could explain the album's title and concept - which is basically one CD devoted to the whole "I Am Sasha Fierce, Hear Me Roar!" thing, versus another CD which is more "and also I am a person with real feelings" - than a long night staring across a dressing table and thinking of ways to subvert your own public image?

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Guns 'n' Roses - 'Chinese Democracy'

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Fraser McAlpine | 11:36 UK time, Monday, 10 November 2008

Guns n RosesI know that you young pups need absolutely no help whatsoever with who this band are and why they are worthy of ChartBlog coverage. But there's something about this new song which you might have missed if you were unaware of some of the things which have happened in their mighty history. So, here's a very quick summary of the key events, containing some massive generalisations, so massive, in fact, that they may distort the fabric of reality itself.

It goes something like this: Scuzzy hard rockers come out of LA hair-metal scene with amazing debut album. So amazing, in fact, that it helps to destroy LA hair-metal scene. Volatile front-man becomes more volatile, and fights with just about everyone. One memorable scuffle involves Kurt Cobain and his wife Courtney Love. Press coverage at the time suggests that Kurt's band might be knocking scuzzy hard-rockers from their lofty perch.

Other stuff happens. Time passes...

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The Chart Show (Plus DVD Extras) - 09/11/08

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Fraser McAlpine | 21:23 UK time, Sunday, 9 November 2008

Fearne & ReggieLittle did we know, a month or so ago, that when the Sugababes sang "here come the girls", they were actually warning everyone that an invasion was on the way. And here it is. A cursory glance down the Top 40 will reveal a massive sudden influx of lady-talent, and they are pretty much entirely gunning for the boys.

Luckily, the very calm and unthreatening Leona Lewis is on hand to try and soothe these troubled waters. And here she is talking to Fearne and Reggie about Akon, Simon Cowell, and her dog. What could be less threatening than that?

Also, have YOU ever had to sing an entire song while your dress attempted to leave your body? In a non-nightmare situation, that is? Well, Leona has.

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Duffy - 'Rain On Your Parade'

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Fraser McAlpine | 10:04 UK time, Sunday, 9 November 2008

DuffyThe Story So Far: Welsh singing lady releases album which attempts to recreate the 1960s, just like the indie bands do. People buy many copies. Similarities are noted between her name and that of Dusty Springfield, a popular singing lady from the 1960s. People make jokes, the kind of jokes which the Last Shadow Puppets managed to avoid by working to almost exactly the same mission statement, but then they are boys, and one of them is an Arctic Monkey, so different rules apply.

As this scene opens, she is seen mopping up the leftover public goodwill towards her backwards-looking musical endeavour, by releasing another single. Now read on...

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Britney Spears - 'Womanizer'

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Fraser McAlpine | 09:30 UK time, Saturday, 8 November 2008

Britney SpearsI've made some idiotic judgements about music in the past (indeed, there are many comments on this very blog attesting as much, but that's another matter). I own two A1 albums. I bought Tracy Shaw's cover of 'Happenin' All Over Again' (admittedly it only cost me 50p, but that's at least 60p more than I should have paid for it), I supported Javine's campaign to represent the UK at Eurovision...well, I could go on. However, the most heinous crime I've committed in recent years was thinking that 'Womanizer' was not very good when I first heard it.

Maybe it was the fact that my first experience of the song was on a poor quality radio rip someone had uploaded to YouTube. Maybe it was the fact that I was at work at the time and really should have been doing something else, so my concentration was compromised. Whatever the reason, I can only apologise, because 'Womanizer' is superb.

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Here Come The Girls...

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Fraser McAlpine | 16:37 UK time, Friday, 7 November 2008

No Boys AloudFellas, it is time that you stopped enjoying modern popular music. Time to develop an interest in either Wagner or Slayer (not that there's a huge amount of difference), because as far as the charts are concerned, you are scum, and it is ALL about The Ladieeez.

There is a fine and noble tradition of songs by girls which list how rubbish boys are, going all the way back to that song about scrubs by TLC (note for younger readers: it wasn't about the TV series). At the time it made a lot of sense, because the rappers were coming out with a charming barrage of dismissive songs about girls, songs which made heavy use of the words 'itch', 'ditch', 'hitch' and 'pitch', but almost never 'kitsch'.

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The Script - 'Breakeven'

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Fraser McAlpine | 09:35 UK time, Friday, 7 November 2008

The ScriptIn my endeavours to work out what to say about this song in an informed and reasonable manner, I had a read of The Script's biography on their official website. Apparently they "are an Irish trio whose music boasts the kind of artful twists sure to turn all preconceptions on their head." This is proper soul music melding indie and hiphop like a blower twists glass into beautiful shapes. Rock music for stadiums with the intimacy of r'n'b. This is going to blow all of our minds.

*exhales*

Look, there's no particularly easy way to say this but you guys have heard of Toploader, right?

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Elbow Interviewed In A Pub...With Jazz

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Fraser McAlpine | 18:11 UK time, Thursday, 6 November 2008

Elbow

If you live in Bury, Greater Manchester, seeing the members of the band Elbow in your local pub might not be all that exciting. However, settling down in an old man ale house in the middle of Cornwall with the winners of this year's Mercury Prize is an entirely different matter. Particularly when they are all there - apart from keyboard player Craig Potter - sat around a pub table, chatting like the gang of best mates they so clearly are.

It starts with jazz, and Guy Garvey getting some drinks in (I said I wasn't sure whether to drink mine or frame it), and ends with me showing the band how to do that flicky finger thing Ali G used to do. In between, we chat about the band's public image change in the wake of their Mercury Award, we chat about Face from The A-Team (ask your dad) and there's a bit where Guy Garvey flirts outrageously with yours truly. And you know what? He's so charming that, given a dramatic shift in sexual preference on both our parts, I might've...

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Beyoncé - 'If I Were A Boy'

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Fraser McAlpine | 09:59 UK time, Thursday, 6 November 2008

BeyonceYikes! We all know that Beyoncé likes to sing about rubbish boyfriends, but she's gone a little deeper than usual this time. Instead of taking her man down one flaw at a time, as she did with the song about the man who doesn't pay his way, or the one about the man who has to move out, or the song about the cheating man who has to say her name on the phone, she's going psychological.

It's a bit like CSI: Beyoncé, she has to try and get into the mind of a man, to find out why they are all such a bunch of hopeless, careless, lying, cheating vermin. And in order to do this, she examines every little thing that a man does, to see if essential clues are hidden in seemingly meaningless behaviour patterns.

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How To Destroy...Razorlight (Again)

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Fraser McAlpine | 16:58 UK time, Wednesday, 5 November 2008

How To Destroy Razorlight

NOTE: I know, I know...I did it before, and with another album cover too...

But c'mon, who but Razorlight would be so lacking in self-consciousness as to fail to spot the gag? They're all being lit from behind, in a moody, dramatic way, a way which highlights the loveliness of their long hair, and suggests that light does actually shine out of their very skins...

...and one of them has a head the shape of a lightbulb.

Prrrrrm-TISH!

How To Destroy Other People...

New Kids On The Block ft. Ne-Yo - 'Single'

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Fraser McAlpine | 09:38 UK time, Wednesday, 5 November 2008

New Kids On The Block

Someone alert the trade descriptions people. We have a problem. They're not new, they're not kids, they're not on, and they're not even A block, let alone THE block. Thankfully their new single is called 'Single', which may act in their favour, although not everyone in the band actually IS single, so maybe not.

And you can't be too hard on the lads for coming back and using their very youth-oriented brand, as it's the only way the general public will recognise them (and even then, they might struggle with Jon), but as a band name for these five men, it is so wrong it makes Boyzone seem right, it makes Westlife make sense, and it couldn't be more misleading if it was changed to Girls Aloud On The Sugababes.

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So What? It's A Pink Lyriscope

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Fraser McAlpine | 16:53 UK time, Tuesday, 4 November 2008

LyriscopeHello ChartBlog students. it is time once again to crack open the musty-smelling case which houses our marvellous invention, the Lyriscope, and let it feel the chilly autumnal breeze. We have many experiments to conduct, and not much time.

Once again, we will aim to discover just how true-to-life the lyrics of a pop song can be, by analysing each line, and then attempting to recreate them in real life. We then take a reading from the Lyriscope, to measure how successful we have been.

This report comes from a protracted study of the song 'So What', by P!nk. Hence the en-pimp-ification of the Lyriscope itself. Next time we're going to get all flames up the side too.

Now, protective goggles on, let's SCIENCE...

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Lemar - 'If She Knew'

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Fraser McAlpine | 10:04 UK time, Tuesday, 4 November 2008

LemarLemar has claimed that he wrote upwards of 70 songs for his new album. An album which contains just ten songs. That's seven-oh, not one-seven. Seventy! He says that this ridiculous overwork was a result of being alone in America with a bunch of producers to work with, and the free time to really focus. And somehow having seven times as many songs as you could possibly need wasn't seen as a massive waste of time and resources, nor are all 70-odd songs going to be released. What Lemar's team would have us believe is that this is a driven artist, compulsively working, purging his soul, as the muse directs him. But it does leave us with a question...

Namely, this is the best one? Out of all SEVENTY? Blimey...

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Filthy Dukes - The Sound Of Victory!

Fraser McAlpine | 15:36 UK time, Monday, 3 November 2008

This is what would happen if Hot Chip were a lot less geeky and a lot more meaty, a bit less nerdy and a lot more dirty. And when I say dirty, I mean DIRRRRRRRRRRTY.

It's called 'Tupac Robot Club Rock' and it's by the Filthy Dukes.

If there was any justice in the charts, this would be nipping at Girls Aloud's heels in the Top 3 (let's be realistic, they won't beat the X-Factor thing, and 'The Promise' is too good to beat), and this is because you just can't have too many booty-slammin' hip hop/rock hybrids with a proper arms-in-the-air victory chorus. The fact that I can't think of any other examples proves my point.

Alesha Dixon - 'The Boy Does Nothing'

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Fraser McAlpine | 09:41 UK time, Monday, 3 November 2008

Alesha DixonHow do you solve a problem like Alesha? It's a bit of a quandary - despite releasing one quite good single ('Lipstick') and one amazing single ('Knockdown'), the public apparently decided they weren't that interested in her solo career, with one single stalling just outside the Top 10 and the other missing the Top 40 altogether. Thus the planned album was shelved, and she disappeared for a bit to be Big In Japan, and sadly slipped out of the public consciousness - until she signed up for Strictly Come Dancing last year, turned out to be very good indeed, and won over the viewing public gradually until she cha cha cha-ed away with the trophy a few days before Christmas.

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The Chart Show (Plus DVD Extras) - 02/11/08

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Fraser McAlpine | 21:01 UK time, Sunday, 2 November 2008

Fearne & ReggieAfter a sterling stand-in from Scott Mills last week, this week's Chart Show returns The Mighty Reg to a nation's grateful ear. And when Reggie comes back, so do his DVD Extras.

If you're relatively new to ChartBlog, you may need to know that DVD Extras are the full-length, unedited (save for curses) versions of the interviews which end up on the Chart Show itself.

And here's a perfect example. Here's Reggie chatting to Ruth and Alexandra from this year's X-Factor finalists. There's some stuff about their chart placing (it's high, in case you're allergic to the news), some stuff about THAT performance, the one where Ruth found herself trapped offstage but still singing, and some stuff about being a cake.

Gwan, have a listen...

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Kardinal Offishall ft. Akon - 'Dangerous'

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Fraser McAlpine | 09:43 UK time, Saturday, 1 November 2008

Kardinal OffishallFor a man who tends to sing variations on the same five-note melody on everything he does, Akon is on a surprisingly huge list of other people's records. So many, in fact, that there are two songs out next week which feature his reedy tones. This one and the latest by Shaggy, which is called 'What's Love'. Both out at the same time, both feature Akon very heavily, both in competition with the other Akon-affiliated songs which are around at the moment, and no-one seems to mind.

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