See this lot here? They're the Horrors. They lurk in dark corners (or well-lit photographic studios), ready to leap out at unsuspecting music fans and scare the willies out of them with their uncompromising blend of '60 garage rock and screamy-shout nastiness.
They've got some nice tunes too, mind, and they dress very well. So it's not all doom and gloom.
Anyway, ChartBlog's roving reporter Amy V recently had some backstage face-to-scaryface time with the band's singer Faris Rotter (NOT his real name, no. His real name is Barney Rotter), while he tried to cram as many noodles into his mouth as inhumanly possible.
NOTE: Amy asked him about dreams. She did not ask him if he had ever thought about doing terribly rude things with members of his own family. He offered that information entirely voluntarily, as you will see if you read on...
They call it the international language of music, which is a dreadfully poncy way of describing the fact that you can play a mournful ditty to a teenager in Sheffield and a grandmother in Nairobi and there's a fair chance it'll have the same reaction. Especially if it's 'You're Beautiful' and the reaction is sudden and violent.
You'll have all heard the Automatic's Live Lounge cover version of Kanye West's song 'Gold Digger' by now, right? It's a thing of beauty, a joy forever, and makes you wonder why yelping puppies don't get to make more rap songs these days...
...and the man responsible for that and all the other yelping on the Automatic's records is a fella by the name of Alex 'Pennie' Pennie. But having put on the expensively-tailored coat of a super-blinged-up, crib-pimping rap star for one song, does Pennie have what it takes to see this thing through to the bitter end? We sent ChartBlog's ever vigilant Amy V to find out...
NOTE: Don't laugh at Westwood. He's got connections.
Some bands have endless amounts of strong drink on their tour rider (the list of things they want tour promotors to give them backstage before they go out and ROCK the KIDS), some bands demand posh cheeses, or vegetarian food, or a jam, spam and lamb sandwich each with a side order of peanut gravy. Maccabees are not a band like other bands. It's a fair guess that one of the things they have to have in order to make the music that they make is coffee. Coffee and Red Bull..and cola and Lucozade and sherbet fountains and a great big air horn to blow into each other's faces before they pick their instruments up.
Dammit! What's the point of having standards about the kind of music you like if a band like this can come along and mess with them? It was bad enough when the Feeling did it, but at least they were resurrecting an era I didn't have to put up with the first time around, so there was less to be personally offended by.
Have you seen the new Kaiser Chiefs album cover? Have you? Look at it!
Now, this is the BBC, yes? We do fair and we do impartial and we do not slag things off with no good reason. So, you'll appreciate that when I say this is the RUBBISHEST ALBUM COVER EVER MADE EVER, that I'm doing so while holding back on what I REALLY think....
You know rave music? You know how it's coming back in a massive way, thanks to a new wave of guitar bands who want to make rave-type tunes with rock-type instruments? Well, this lot take that approach to a massive extreme. Imagine the kind of rave music made by the ghosts of Victorian undertakers, who can only access dusty old '60s instruments and a variety of dead badgers to wear as hair. That's yer Horrors sound, right there...
The release of the single 'Let's Make Love And Listen To Death From Above' was one of the most exciting things to happen to my ears last year. And although no other song on the CSS album quite lived up to its dizzy heights of aural perfection, its role in the reintroduction of day-glo to my wardrobe cannot be underestimated.
Some bands or songwriters reflect your world and everything in it, others give you a glimpse into a whole other way of being that you didn't even know was there, under your very noses, until they pointed to it. But it's a special pop act indeed that can create a brand new world just using their instruments, voices and ability to arrange sounds into a coherent shape.
Now, I'm not for a second claiming that Idlewild can do that, I'm not entirely sure ANYONE can do it, but they have called their new album 'Make A New World' and so, given the chance to talk to their singer Roddy about anything at all, the one question that kept coming up is "what kind of new world, EH?"
So that's what we asked him. Wanna know what happened?
For some reason, the move from a CD-based chart to a download-based chart has bypassed one 'key demographic', the indie fan who still likes to buy 7" singles. Luckily, Bloc Party, who are probably the indiest indie band in the entire world (apart from indie bands who still put stuff out on independant record labels, obv) are doing their damndest to 'service' this 'gap in the market'.
Their single 'The Prayer', was available in a special gatefold two-record set, which includes a special extra Bloc song called 'England'. And we've not only managed to get hold of a copy, but it's been signed by the band!
Phew! Finally Gwen seems to have realised that, yes, How Do You Solve A Problem Like A Maria? is over and, no, she didn't win. Not that we didn't all enjoy her crazy yodelling adventures in the Alps, but we're also quite glad that was a one-shot thing rather than a permanent new direction. We shudder to think what she might've done to 'Climb Ev'ry Mountain'.
See this fella here? His name is Patrick Wolf, and he is not like you or I. He's the kind of fella who likes wandering the streets with a violin tucked under his chin, wearing the clothes of a Victorian cyclist (crossed with a glitterball) and the hair of Cilla Black (the '60s years). And he records odd sounds - nature, wind, cars, coughing - and puts them in his records alongside the four billion instruments he himself can play
But he is not crackers, he is fantastic, and his third album 'The Magic Position', should see him 'do a Mika' if there's any justice in the world.
Actually, he's a BIT crackers, but...well...why not read all about the interview I did with him a short while ago, and make your own mind up...
As ridiculous, overblown, and downright silly as a lot of modern R&B gets, there's something terrifying about it when it goes over to THE DARK SIDE. Like when it's not just about the sexiness of whoever is doing the singing, it's also about how they basically don't think they're going to make it through this world if love is going to continue to go THIS bad on them.
To keep their feet rooted on the ground, a lot of famous people have hobbies or second jobs. Many start their own record label like Pete Wentz, some like to paint, or write food features for a newspaper, like Alex Franz does. So, what sort of thing does Gerard Way Out Of My Chemical Romance* like to do when his Black Parading is all finished? Well, here's an excerpt from a blog which offers some clues...
February 22nd: Of course, it's this time of year I hate the most. I can deal with the spring, there's not a wooden object in the world which doesn't remember the thrill of that sudden rush of sap to the branches that comes in the springtime...summer is fine so long as there's children around to take me down and put me in their fort in the garden from time to time...and once we're into autumn - or 'fall', as I should really call it - then the blossom in my wooden heart starts to bloom, fruit grows and falls and we're heading towards the peak of my year...my DESTINY...
Boy that Freddie Mercury casts a long shadow, doesn't he? I mean his influence can be felt behind every perky pop song like this, which skips and canters along - rather than pounding or moping, like most other songs do - and every musical arrangement which features walls of impudent harmonies that like to talk to their lead singer as much as they like to back him up. Mika knows it, the Feeling know it, Muse know it, and now here come Take That - a band whose grasp of sub-operatic drama and camp dynamics has always been fairly well hidden - to throw their Freddie-loving hat into the already-crowded ring....
So, we know that Lil Chris is very young, and that he's the young scamp who out-rocked all the poshos on Rock School. But there's so much about him that we don't know. We don't know about his pre-fame years, his struggles, his ups, his downs...
And we particularly don't know what his REAL school years were like. Was he a swot or a rebel? A geek or a jock? Did he ping the girls' bra straps and run off, or make daisy chains with them and cry when the bigger boys trod on his glasses?
Frankly, we need a full School Report from the Lil Man himself, and that's exactly what ChartBlog got when we spoke to him earlier in the week.
The effect a song can have on you is quite interesting really isn't it? Oi you! Come back and hear me out! Take '(Is This The Way To) Amarillo' ...everyone loves that at the disco because it's jolly and Peter Kay thinks it's good and whatever he says is LAW, right? With that in mind, I think it's worth pointing out that despite the musical jolly-fest, the lyrics are actually pretty sad - "I've been weeping like a willow" - sniff! SO something like 'How To Save A Life' - with its very heartfelt lyrics - runs the risk of being overlooked because of the spiralling, glorious sound.
NOTE: Not that ChartBlog is suggesting that anyone would WANT to destroy Razorlight, or that destroying them would be an acceptable thing to do, even if you could find a big enough bowling ball. But should you find yourself in a position where you HAD to destroy them, well, now you've some idea of how to go about it. BBC Public Service...BEST IN THE WORLD, see?
I thought this was the oldest and most well-thumbed songspoiler of all time, but it seems there are still people out there who've never found that the song below bears even the slightest resembance to, say, the theme music to a certain children's TV show, which was occasionally narrated by a former Beatle.
Describing sample-and-loop dance tracks is becoming trickier and trickier these days. Particularly if you take the idiotic decision to try and do it without making reference to the video. I mean, could you describe Eric Prydz without referring to sexy-robics, or that one about the strip poker game without the strip poker game? And what about the one with the lab technicians trying to make kissy with a robot/clone man thing? Nope, me neither...
The Gossip's Beth Ditto recently griped that she's sick of playing to audiences who don't know their Ramones. So who knows how she feels about returning to the charts via an ad campaign for E4's teen-version of an aftershave ad, Skins.* Or, for that matter, touting her band round the chat-show circuit to re-promote it (reckon Alan Carr knows his Dee Dee from his Joey?).
Ladies and Gentlemen, we live in interesting times. It seemed headspinning enough that a moderately interesting Radio 2-type lady singer could suddenly become amazing by performing a song about how her record company wanted her to cut down on her heavy drinking (yes, Amy Winehouse)...and that she could then proceed to celebrate by - you've guessed it - going out and getting drunk a lot...just like REAL people do...and no doubt chinking glasses with her record company peeps along the way.
And when our single biggest male pop star (no, not Mika, Robbie) re-admitted himself to rehab after he suddenly seemed to have lost a battle with his former band - one that we all knew he won years ago - well, you could tell that something was going seriously wrong in the world of pop.
But these tales, interesting though they are, are just minor tittle-tattle compared to the ongoing media face-elbow-fest which is The Britney Spears Story.
Oh CUTE! Look at this little fella! You don't see a hybrid strain like him every day, do you? He's got the hind-quarters of a Killers stadium rock classic - look, his calves are made of anthemic synthy noise and he's got hooves just like Robert Smith of the Cure. But his front end is constructed from pure English whimsy, which means he's a little asthmatic and squeaky, his flanks are giddy and hard to control, and he's prone to suddenly lurching about as if doing a knees-up in a cockney pub.
Hey there, Kelis? How ya doin'? Everything OK over there? You alright? I only ask cos your new song seems to be a little down-in-the-dumps, and we can't have that. So howsabout the two of us have a little chat about it and see if we can't turn that frown upside-down. OK?
There comes a time in any young blog's life when you have to make a decision. Do you just keep creating the finest and most brilliant pop writing known to man (apart from some of the other pop blogs, which are better, if I'm honest) and just HOPE people will find it, or do you keep creating the finest and most brilliant pop writing known to man and then set up a MySpace page and try and TELL everyone about it?
In the future, instead of having such things as iPods and radios and suchlike, there will be little musical boxes. These will be tiny, and ornate, and will have beautiful 3-D screens which can display stunning kaleidescopic patterns, or current films and TV shows, whatever you like, really. These can also be projected onto a variety of surfaces, from the back of the car seat in front of you to the moon (and back), that's the kind of amazing technology they will have in the future, see.
Just in case any of you read ChartBlog's 'hilarious' pretend-tabloid Jessica Ree account of the TV coverage of the Brits (it's here, if you don't know what I'm on about) and thought to yourself "Hey, come on! No-one's THAT dim...", look at this. It's taken from the free newspaper London Lite , which is available from all good tube stations in the nation's capital (or, as Jessica herself would call it 'London's trendy London').
OH MY GOD, WHAT THE HELL IS THIS? What on EARTH is Beyonce doing singing the sort of song they usually give to X-Factor winners? She's made it already, hasn't she? I distinctly remember her having hit records, and not that long ago either, so it's not like she's taking the Emma Bunton pop failure route and gone reality TV on her own (much discussed) ass, is it?
THIS THE FINAL SELECTION OF THINGS I HAVE MYSELF WITNESSED IN THE BACKSTAGE AREA...
Brandon Flowers of the Killers (AMAZING cowboy boots, eh?) was so distracted by Oasis's performance that he could barely find the words to say how pleased he is at winning two awards. While being interviewed by Chris Moyles, his attention kept wandering to the TV. If you have since heard the broadcast of this interview and want to know why it's so short and frazzled...blame Noel and 'Don't Look Back In Anger'.
But he did find time to tell reporters that winning two Brits this time is especially nice, seeing as they didn't win ANY last time. And apparently 80% of the music the band listen to is British, so he's only selling back to us stuff he bought years ago, with added moustache. I think that's what he meant, anyway.
OTHER THINGS I HAVE MYSELF WITNESSED IN THE BACKSTAGE AREA...
Sharon Osbourne and Louis Walsh told Radio 1 journalists that they are considering streaking across the stage (ie - running around with no clothes on. I know you know what it means, but we should be aware of the enormity of the situation). On behalf of all the stomach-fluid-maintaining peoples of the world, I can only PRAY TO THE VERY HEAVENS that this does not come to pass. Unless it's during Take That, because that might be rather fun.
Muse are rocking the two-tone colour scheme quite heavily. Dominic is wearing black and white brogue shoes and his black blazer with the white piping, and Matt is wearing an amazing black and cream frock coat, which you'll have seen on the telly. He claims this is because he's just seen 'March Of The Penguins' and liked it so much he wanted to be one.
ChartBlog's special Exclusive-Hungry reporter Jessica Ree* on the TV show of the award ceremony of the music business event of the year (so far)....
Hello! It's me Jessica here. I have been doing some very hard sleuthing, while watching this year's Brit Awards on television, at home, alone...and I have uncovered some amazing facts. AMAZING, I TELL YOU.
For starters, I can exclusively reveal that the Scissor Sisters can't really jump that high, and they're not that supple either. It was all A LIE, and they had to bring in SPECIAL PRETEND LEGS so that they could look supple and stuff. Whatsamatter, Jake and Ana? Been overdoing the mince pies over Christmas, eh? Jake? Eh?
THINGS I HAVE MYSELF WITNESSED IN THE BACKSTAGE AREA...
Jake Shears out of the Scissor Sisters has bloody enormous feet. And in gold lame trousers as tight as the ones he is wearing, they look even bigger. And you know what they say about a man with big feet...big feet, big risk of a fall on the stairs...
Noel Gallagher, you are a NAUGHTY PERSON'S HERO for announcing live on Radio 1 that Justin Timberlake has won his category, just because you happened to see the video for his acceptance speech being played on ALL of the TV screens in the backstage media area. This is a degree of attention to detail which can only be described as Sherlock Holmesian. Not that I'm saying Justin HAS won, of course...that was Noel. Don't mention the Arctic Monkeys either, OK?
It's a truism that you don't know what you've got ‘til it's gone, but is it not also true that you don't know what you've NOT got 'til it's taken a break to have a baby and then come back with an incredible comeback single?
Just as we were despondantly penning Dear John letters to Girls Aloud and Sugababes (the Aerosmith cover is the last straw) and lamenting the chasm that has opened in the absence of a heart-stopping female popstrel, in re-sashays Ms Bextor-Ellis-Ellis-Bextor.
This Wednesday evening (February 14th), the great, the good, the not-so-great and the downright appalling of the music business will all be getting together in a massive shed in London with Russell Brand, to celebrate the records of James Morrison, Lily Allen and the Kooks.
Yes, that's right! It's the Brit Awards! And it's going to be AMAZING!
And that's not all. For the very first time, the Brit Awards is going to be broadcasting in ChartBlogVIsion, which is just a self-aggrandising way of saying I'll be there, backstage, ON THE NIGHT, and I'll be trying to get as much interesting pop star gossip into these very pages as I can make up, sorry, GATHER.
Now, I've never been before, and I've no idea what to expect. So here's a list of things I've decided I'll try and do if the UNTHINKABLE happens, and I get bored:
There is such a thing as asking too many questions...like when journalists corner the Kaisers about their second album, and ask them to prove they have progressed and re-worked the sound which made their name in the first place. Now, leaving aside the issue of whether it actually counts as progress to not bothering to scream like a toothachey wolf on their songs, there's really no right answer to a question like that, as I will endeavour to prove right here and now...
Yes that's right, but for the Kaiser Chiefs, this week's Top 5 is basically last week's Top 5. And last week's Top 5, well, that was basically the one before that. Is it worth making the point again about the sheer wrongness displayed by everyone who moaned about the charts being spoiled by the new rules about downloads and all that? Moaning which continued in some Sunday supplements even after the total non-event of the change-over? No, probably not. OK, let's talk about something else...
Having already admitted to ChartBlog that he got the idea for this little ditty in a strip club (read the interview, if you don't believe me), it should come as no surprise to anyone that this song isn't really called 'I Wanna Love You'. One of the words in the title is different, and it's not I, You, or Wanna.
Clever boys, this bunch. Y’know that man that stands at the corner by the station ranting and raving about the state of the town, and how we can all save ourselves? Do you ever listen? No. Well all you wannabe-preachers need to take a leaf out of the book of The Enemy.
This song is a bit like your equivalent of the worst kind of reality show. Nothing AT ALL happens for AGES and then, all of a sudden, things go mental. But in the case of Snow Patrol, this is no bad thing and there's no Jade Goody in sight.
Earlier today, I had a very nice phone call with the returning queen of all things Frostypop, Ms Sophie Ellis Bextor. Now, she's been away for a while, raising her little boy Sonny with her hubby Richard. You may have got to know Richard a little better recently as the bass player with a new band called the Feeling, who've done quite well. You might even have heard one or two of their songs, in passing...
Here's just some of the exciting things I discovered:
Thing 1: Sophie likes to dress her son up as a penguin. Thing 2: She likes to wear his dressing up clothes too. Thing 3: She would like to end her days as a bitter old hag on the arm of her famous rock star husband.
What? WHAAT? Ludacris, one of the more non-sensical and sex-happy rap stars coming up with a grown-up, sympathetic and heartfelt ode to the trials of modern woman-hood? Whatever next? A 50 Cent song about the dangers of maxing out your credit card on expensive trinkets you don't need? A Kanye West song about shyness? HAS THE WORLD GONE MAD?
Somewhere in a mountain lair far far away, a group of scientists are building a super race of musical clones. Positioned between the boy-band and girl-band department, and the pop’s-not-working-let’s-try-another-swing-album department, there’s the bland R’n’B songstrel department.
Oh dear. The fact that Towers of London’s latest…ahem…masterpiece starts with the sound of air-raid sirens tells you all you need to know about it. For once, you should listen to the nice string vested-man (but don’t look him in the eye) and run for cover from Donny “The Great Escape” Tourette and his band of stinky-looking minions.
Y'know, despite being the biggest rock act in the world right now, and despite the fact that they absolutely deserve to be so, and despite the fact that they are clearly an amazing live band who can play all the colours in the rock rainbow from rage red to desolation blue...there's something about the band's current output which just screams out for some QUALITY CONTROL!
A while ago we asked you to send in your questions for Akon, the squeaky rap/singist with the over-bulging address book. And you did not disappoint...even though I had to make some up as well...
So, here, for your eternal delight, is the man himself, talking about such varied topics as chef's hats, punching Usher, and working on song ideas while a lady waves her intimate areas in your face. Classy!
Hey, was there a decision taken to allow power-ballads back in? Did I miss a meeting? Surely this well-used formula - where the first verse is wafty and piano-led, then there's a quiet chorus, then the drums kick in for a meatier version of same - was outlawed by the Geneva Convention some years back (it was the same meeting where it was decided that the Darkness had 'gone beyond a joke', for you history buffs)...
Quick, watch this video by MIA...it's called 'Bird Flu' (TOPICAL!), it's got some dancehall patois in (TROPICAL!) and the video has lots of angry-looking street children shouting in it (er...STROPICAL?)...
NOTE: Not that ChartBlog is suggesting that anyone would WANT to destroy him, or that destroying him would be an acceptable thing to do. But should you find yourself in a position where you HAD to destroy him, well, now you've some idea of how to go about it. BBC Public Service...BEST IN THE WORLD, see?
You know how some pop people say that they want their debut album to be like their greatest hits? Like you could pick any song off the CD and release it as a single and it would be great? Well, it's clear this lot have been taking that idea a bit too literally, as this is now the FIFTH song to be taken off 'Twelve Stops And Home'. Credit your fans with some imagination on the singles thing, willya boys? We can always PRETEND it came out...
So, Mika's single finally became available in the shops, and do you know what? It went straight to No.1! This must be an especially sweet victory for the helium-throated curly-top, as the song that the CD of 'Grace Kelly' has knocked from the top spot is none other than the iPod-erised 'Grace Kelly', by Mika.
For once, the reason behind this song is obvious and I’m going to share it with you. Let me set the scene… he’s on a date with a lovely lady, they went to McDonalds, to the amusement arcade and now they’re at a club, he’s tried but he just doesn’t find her interesting (she’s into card making). So, she’s talking about her glitter and double-sided foam tape and he’s switched off and is deep in thought about his surroundings...
It's officially NUTBAG WEEK in the nation's CD shops. From Monday February 5th, all, or some, or many, or a few, or NONE of these songs will be available to buy. And look at the list! There's some right bonkers stuff in there. Naturally, music being music, sometimes the more bonkers the music is, the better it is (don't get excited Mr Bedingfield, I don't mean you), and that's certainly the case with some of this lot. But don't just take my word for it...actually, stuff it...DO just take my word for it. I'm right and will be proven to be so by THE JUDGES OF HISTORY ITSELF.
Remember PSE at school, where the teacher told you to never play in the bushes with boys? The birds and the bees, that kinda thing? Well, Kate Jackson of the Long Blondes is clearly preaching from a textbook as foreign to those chaste concepts as Russell Brand is to seriousness...and hats...and clothes of a colour which is not blackorwhite...
Here's four albums which you might wanna put pre-order in for. They're out on February 5th
THE ONE YOU'VE BEEN WAITING FOR Fall Out Boy - 'Infinity On High'
For all the guff talked about Pete Wentz and his empire built on the back of his internal battles, this album belongs to another member of the band. Step forward, Mr Stump, I mean you! From the epic balladry of 'The (After) Life Of The Party' to the barnstorming ramalama (with extra ding dong in the shape of Jay-Z on autopilot) of 'Thriller' to the funky-rock of 'The Take Over, The Break's Over', to the sheer pop rush of 'This Ain't A Scene...' (stop shouting. It IS pop, we've had it measured by experts), one man stands head and shoulders above all the others, and it's the one in the hat. Shame he can't sing "goddamn arms race" very clearly, but I guess you can't have everything...
This guy is some sort of lyrical Bhudda isn’t he? He keeps floating out thess gorgeous, tranquil, talk-to-the-heart songs. And truth be told, I’m a bit of a geek when it comes to stuff like this. It’s all because I’m a bit partial to a good old metaphor, so you can imagine my excitement listening to Mr Rice’s lyrics – “rootless tree”? Ah, so much analysis, so little time! And having such a beautifully constructed song like this, I feel we need to stay on his level. So I figured what better way to do so, then to describe a metaphor WITH a metaphor…genius!
DISCLAIMER: Some of the themes in this hi-LAR-ious feature might lead a casual observer to conclude that ChartBlog endorses the use of swear words. This is a g****** lie. And if you s****** tell anyone otherwise, we will personally cut your j***** y*** off. OK?
Here, in reverse order, are the five stars whose names could, with a little prompting, become the "It's all gone Pete Tong" of tomorrow...
No. 5: Lily Allen Original Definition: Pretty, mouth-wonked daughter of the Sheriff Of Nottingham. Swears like fishwife. Funny blogger (which could be rhyming slang, but isn't). Flouncy dresses and trainers. Immensely likeable, if a little prickly in interview form... ChartBlog Definition: "Lily" - A cute description of that part of the male anatomy which is not to be found on the female anatomy, unless in extreme circumstances. More detail on what these circumstances may be can be found in list form within the pages of 'The ChartBlog Guide To The Essential Rudeness And Urr! Of The Human Body'. Available from all good biological reference-book stores. Example: "Oh My God! And then! He sat down! In them shorts! And...And... I SAW HIS LILY! *shrieks* "
You just can't have too many bands like Clinic. Band who 'refuse' to play the music biz 'game' by 'the rules' and deliberately obscure their own faces in every press shot and at live appearances...while still having press shots done and appearing live (and often in costume). It's like having your cake, eating your cake, and then going back to ask the cake-shop lady where all the blimming cake is...
Ooh! Interesting! See, the problem with Simon Webbe is that his voice and style are so instantly familiar that you feel like you've heard far more of his songs than perhaps you have, and there's a temptation to conclude that he just does the same thing over and over again.
Part of the problem is that you're also factoring in the entire Blue back-catalogue AND some of the Lighthouse Family's biggest hits too (it's a tone of voice thing)...
[Here's some lovely live footage of Simon doing his thing...]
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