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By Mary Chang
on Thursday, 12th July 2012 at 10:00 am
Okay. I think my head just exploded. Pat Grossi, aka Active Child, announced earlier this week on his Facebook page that BBC Sound of 2010 winner Ellie Goulding (pictured above) has recorded a new version of his song ‘Hanging On’, and with Tinie Tempah. Got all that? Good. Now listen to the cover below, and if you like it, grab it for free here.
As reported a couple weeks ago on the Guardian, these 86 tracks were chosen to be the best of British music through the years and will be the soundtrack to official opening ceremony on 27 July. As should be expected, confirmed opening ceremony performers Duran Duran (pictured at top) appear on the list with ‘The Reflex’, and Muse, suppliers of the official London 2012 song, appear twice with ‘Map of the Problematique’ and ‘Uprising’. There are also appearances from the themes of both Coronation Street and Eastenders: little North vs. South action, eh? The Blur (‘Song 2′) vs. Oasis (‘Wonderwall’) argument has a second coming.
But there seem to be some glaring omissions (how are there no Beatles, Queen or Smiths songs?), and do we really need to remind the world of Frankie Goes to Hollywood‘s ‘Relax’? I guess the Sex Pistols‘ previous two fingers to the monarchy have been long since forgotten (they appear twice, with ‘God Save the Queen’ and ‘Pretty Vacant’), and I can’t be the only one who thinks OMD‘s ‘Enola Gay’ is a strange choice. My favourite addition? A tie between Soul II Soul‘s ‘Back to Life’ and Kaiser Chiefs‘ ‘I Predict a Riot’. Least favourites? Tinie Tempah‘s ‘Pass Out’ and Roll Deep‘s ‘Shake a Leg’. (Really?)
Have a look and listen below and then let us know what you think of the 86 song list in the comments. We’ll add the most entertaining ones to the body of this post. (Hints: you must have Spotify to play the tracks, and to activate the scrolling bar, run your mouse or finger on the right hand side of the player to reveal it.)
By Mary Chang
on Wednesday, 9th May 2012 at 11:00 am
‘You Are the Quarry’ had been called Morrissey‘s comeback album in May 2004 after the much-maligned ‘Maladjusted’ released in 1997. Things were looking good for the Mozzer; the album was his highest charting album ever in America. Fast forward a couple months and I’m flipping through cable channels to find something interesting to watch and I hear a couple bars of something familiar. I look more closely at the television. It’s the new MTV teen reality show Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County, and during what I’m guessing was supposed to be a tender moment, what do I hear in the background but ‘First of the Gang to Die’.
Sadly, I don’t have a YouTube video to go along with this; the video above is taken from the film for Who Put the M in Manchester?, filmed live at the MEN in 2004 (I’ve played my DVD of this so many times, my DVD skips, I think I broke it). But in my research for this piece, I also learned it was used in an episode of Date My Mom, such that a boy and the coed his mother chose as his date can disappear into the sunset. By limo. We have no way of knowing if Steven Patrick Morrissey himself approved the usage of this song, but it’s hard to believe he would allow the song, about a kid in a Latino gang who becomes a martyr by being the first in his group of friends to die, to be used in either context. While it is a pop song, it’s not really a song about sunny days and going out on dates.
It seems not surprising that the E4 reality drama Made in Chelsea, essentially the UK’s answer to Laguna Beach with well-heeled rich kids from a posh area of London, also uses current ‘hot’ songs in their shows. I won’t list every artist, but a quick glance at the tracklisting for the first episode of the first series for Made in Chelsea lists tunes form some pretty impressive stars that we’ve written about before: Adele, Dragonette, Morning Parade, Muse, the Script, Tinie Tempah (erroneously credited as ‘Tinie T’) and Two Door Cinema Club (twice!). Either the producers have been reading up on the music blogosphere or consulting with people in the know on ‘what’s hot’ (more likely the latter).
That said, what role – or what rights – do artists have in permitting (or not permitting) the use of their songs on television. The use of Noz’s ‘First of the Gang to Die’ and the Made in Chelsea soundtracks came into my mind when I read that Australian singer/songwriter Gotye, recent Saturday Night Live performer and pretty much world pop sensation, was complaining that his mega hit ‘Somebody That I Used to Know’ was no longer his. Specifically, this had to do with its usage in the American pop tv sensation Glee. You know, that show where famous songs are redone by teen actors and generally speaking, the original versions of the song gain quite a lot of publicity, while the young people of the world get confused about music history. Goyte’s quandary? “I wasn’t sure whether something so mainstream was right for my music and whether it reflected on my music in my bad way. But I think I realised that the song’s so popular, it’s kind of out of my hands, so when something like Glee comes along, why would I say no?”
The man subsequently whinged on the success of the song, saying, “sometimes I feel like I’m a bit sick of it. My inbox, on any given day, has at least five covers or parodies or remixes of it and there’s only so many times you can listen to the one song.” I don’t know about you, but I can’t even begin to count on both hands how many bands I’ve met over the last 3 years that would love to be a similar position of ‘discomfort’. I guess success – and the happiness you get from success – is a fickle thing; maybe when you have it and realise it’s not so great, you want to bash it and everything that comes with it. Careful though: Goyte had to give his permission to the producers of Glee to use ‘Somebody That I Used to Know’ in one of their episodes. He could have easily put the kibosh on the matter entirely by blocking its use on the popular American tv show; there are probably others, but most notably Kings of Leon and Foo Fighters have refused the Fox tv programme permission. Dave Grohl’s response to the invitation: “It’s every band’s right, you shouldn’t have to do fucking Glee. And then the guy who created Glee is so offended that we’re not, like, begging to be on his f**king show… f**k that guy for thinking anybody and everybody should want to do Glee.”
While I agree with Grohl on this – I personally can’t stand the show and how it repurposes already great music, only to redo them in charmless, overblown, unworthy imitations – there seems to be no right or wrong answer for an artist or band considering allowing commercial use of their songs. Some bands still and will always feel that allowing such permission debases the artistic value of their hard work and inspiration. However, maybe the gold standard yet groan worthy rule of PR applies here: “there is no such thing as bad publicity.” As much as Goyte might complain that the song he wrote no longer belongs to him, ‘Somebody That I Used to Know’ is still #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for the third week running. Suffering for one’s art? Maybe not so much.
By Mary Chang
on Thursday, 8th September 2011 at 5:30 pm
In case you missed them, we wrote previously on this year’s Mercury Prize shortlist and our writers weighed on who they thought should win and who should have received a nod from this year’s nomination committee.
Just prior to the shortlist being announced, it was strong, talented representatives of “the fairer sex” who topped the bookies’ top bets: Adele and PJ Harvey were neck and neck as the odds on favourite. These two lovely ladies continued to be strong favourites throughout the weeks leading up to the event in London hosted by Jools Holland this past Tuesday night. On the evening, Adele did not join her nominee compadres on the red carpet, nor did she perform on the Grosvenor Hotel stage due to illness. Ms. Adkins did, however, made everyone laugh with her humourous fake acceptance speech. Speaking of the faux acceptance speeches, after a rousing performance of ‘The Bay’, Joseph Mount of Metronomy said with a grin, “this is nice that the first album that you hear from us is about the place where I’m from. And I hope you visit Devon!” Bless. (To be fair, it’s nice that Devon will now be known for something other than their cows and Muse.)
6music reported that Guy Garvey of Elbow (the 2008 Mercury winner for ‘The Seldom Seen Kid’) was self-deprecating as usual, saying he wished their “little friends” Everything Everything would prove to be the winner. Speaking of the double-named band, they took the bold step of performing a non-single, album track from ‘Man Alive’, ‘Tin (the Manhole)’, when it was their turn to wow the dinner audience at the Grosvenor. But ultimately, it was PJ Harvey who came out on top, with her album ‘Let England Shake’ winning the top honours. With this win, she becomes the first act ever to win the Mercury Prize twice (she won exactly 10 years ago, in 2011 for her ‘Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea’). You can watch her live performance of ‘The Words That Maketh Murder’ from Tuesday night below. Congratulations Polly Jean!
By Mary Chang
on Tuesday, 19th July 2011 at 2:16 pm
The shortlist for the Barclaycard Mercury Prize 2011 Albums of the Year were announced by 6music presenter Lauren Laverne this morning in a special ceremony at London’s Hospital Club. As usual, some of the nominees were expected to receive the prestigious industry nod, while some were definitely less than expected.
Not surprisingly, soul singer Adele‘s critically acclaimed and best-selling album on both sides of the Atlantic, ’21′, received a nom. There are plenty of new artists on this year’s shortlist, in exactly the same shoes Adele was in 3 years ago with ’19′. Sultry-looking and equally sultry-sounding Anna Calvi received a nomination for her eponymous debut; again, this is hardly surprising given she was shortlisted in late 2010 for the BBC Sound of 2011. James Blake, #2 on the Sound of 2011 list, also garnered a nod for his self-titled debut album bringing dubstep more to the mainstream. (Read Natalie’s review of the album here.) Electronic producer Ghostpoet is nominated for his debut album that sounds more like the title of a cookbook, ‘Peanut Butter Blues and Melancholy Jam’.
After winning the gong in 2008 with ‘The Seldom Seen Kid’, Elbow will try their hand to win again this year with their newest, ‘build a rocket, boys!’ (Read John’s review of the album here.) A win for the Mancunians seems highly appropriate in light of the development of their own limited edition golden ale, named after their new album and true to their roots, to be made locally in Stockport and sold exclusively at Robinsons pubs in the UK.) Speaking of Manchester, the eclectic ‘Man Alive’ (my review here) from Manchester-based Everything Everything is also up for the award.
New urban music makes a good showing on this year’s shortlist. Katy B‘s ‘On a Mission’ received a nomination, as did Tinie Tempah‘s ‘Disc-Overy’. But legends also figure in the nominations. Influential singer/songwriter PJ Harvey has been recognised for ‘Let England Shake’, her first album in 4 years. The Domino-released collaboration between Scottish singer-songwriter King Creosote and electronica artist Jon Hopkins, ‘Diamond Mine’, that was a labour of love for 7 years is also nominated. Brighton dance band Metronomy‘s highly-anticipated third album released in April, ‘The English Riviera’, is also a contender. (Read Luke’s review of the album here.) And if we’ve learned anything from 2 decades of the Mercury Prize, there is always at least one album that comes out of left field. This year, that nomination goes to Welsh jazz pianist Gwilym Simcock and his ‘Good Days at Schloss Elmau’. (I Googled it: Schloss Elmau is a luxury hotel in the foothills of Bavaria. Maybe that’s a good place for the to-be-announced Mercury Prize winner to escape inevitable press and paps in mid-September?)
The winner of the 2011 Mercury Prize will be announced on Tuesday, 6 September.
Saturday’s opener were the Gaslight Anthem who, while only having played Pilton Farm once before, made one hell of an impression when they did. None other than The Boss himself joined the New Jersey boys on stage to power through their anthem ‘The 59 Sound’ before he hit the Pyramid Stage to headline 2 years ago. The Gaslight Anthem this time around were gracing the Pyramid Stage and at first they looked like they were a little overawed by it all. Who can blame them when you have upwards of 10,000 people staring at you? However, the band got into their stride and delivered a formidable set dripping with hooks and old fashioned riffs. No Boss this time though, however there are signs of a band on the up.
Next on my hit list was the big story of 2010, Mr. Tinie Tempah, armed with arguably the biggest single of last year (the infectious club anthem ‘Pass Out’) and a set list of songs that most of the UK will be familiar with. Tinie is the next in line of hip hop stars gracing the Pyramid Stage after Jay-Z’s monumental set in 2008 and Dizzee Rascal’s triumphs in previous years, hip hop looks set for a bright future at Glastonbury. First sing-along ‘Wonderman’ is a tad weak though and ‘Invincible’ is not much better in all honesty. However Tinie is saved by the slick, sexy Labrinth-infused rhymes of hit ‘Frisky’ and ‘Pass Out.’
Rushing over to the Other Stage I was able to catch veteran punks Jimmy Eat World as they blasted through a back catalogue of hits. ‘Bleed American’ sounded utterly epic in the setting and set the tone for a gig which this stage was made for: fist-pumping was rife and the choruses were as infectious as they ever have been. However, it is hit single ‘The Middle’ which provokes the mass sing-along and shows Jimmy Eat World at their anthemic best. A clinically underrated band that pull out all the stops live, any day, any way.
It was to my misfortune though that Paolo Nutini was on when I arrived back at the Pyramid Stage. It isn’t enough that he is noticeably stoned and drunk on stage and staggers about with all the swagger you would expect of a taller Cher Lloyd. Hits such as ‘Pencil Full Of Lead’ and ‘New Shoes’ grated on the ear as expected and his set went on for much too long. Little else I can say about this man’s set. Yes, the brass band backing is cool, I enjoyed that. Nutini himself though did exactly what expected, irritated and enraged me to the point that only a mass sing-along of truly epic proportions would take me from the edge.
Thank the lord then that Elbow were on next. Guy Garvey and co. came out to rapturous applause and flew into opener ‘The Birds’. However, it wasn’t until ‘The Bones of You’ was played that the crowd really came to their side. Garvey though was the king of the show, getting the crowd on his side at any opportunity possible, whether it was by downing a pint in true Manchester styling or whether it was with a terrific backwards Mexican wave, which from looking out from the Pyramid stage must have looked truly majestic for the Mancunian 5-piece. ‘Grounds For Divorce’ was played out with the kind of power you just don’t get from any other frontman and band, while ‘Open Arms’ was buoyed by two giant blow-up men each side of the stage. There were no guesses though as to which song they played out with; ‘One Day like This’ truly was the perfect song to go out on.
Coldplay’s headline set had to be something special then to follow the sheer brilliance of Elbow, but when you see Coldplay (pictured at top), you never expect anything less than brilliance. If U2 turned up with their A game the night before, Coldplay were A+++. Sure they opened with a new song, but what is wrong with taking a chance when you headline Glastonbury. Kings of Leon did it and Jay-Z opened with ‘Wonderwall’, so it seems truly monumental Glastonbury shows open like this. Chris Martin was from the start of the show until the end at his buoyant, if not a little self-deprecating best, whether he was hammering out ‘Clocks’ from behind the piano, or acting like the true frontman he is with a guitar at the front of the Pyramid Stage. ‘Viva La Vida’ was truly majestic but it was the encore of ‘Fix You’ where everyone on the crowd could truly realise that Coldplay are as brilliant as ever and look set to be for a long, long time.