Top 100 singles of all time: 88 – Front Line Assembly – Plasticity

I’m going to skip over number 89 – Madonna’s Nothing Really Matters – because we already covered it, and jump straight to 88. Plasticity was one of those singles that grabs you by the throat and doesn’t let go. It was one of those songs that would instantly fill the dancefloor. The song you’d look forward to hearing. The song that would make you go clubbing so that you could hear it.

It was just so primal, that relentless synth bassline, the forbidding vocals. Cherish your hate.  Continue reading

Starship Troopers

It’s been a while since I’ve seen Paul Verhoeven’s spoof propaganda war movie, but it’s held up exceptionally well. How anyone watching this camp little gem didn’t get that it was supposed to be a satire is beyond me – it’s one involuntary Nazi salute away from Dr Strangelove.

Loosely adapted from the Commie-bustin’ 50s novel by Robert A Heinlein, Verhoeven and writer Edward Neumeier take their source material and play it for laughs, ladling on the gore and gratuitous nudity as they go. Square-jawed Casper Van Dien signs up to the intergalactic army to impress Denise Richards, much to the delight of the one-armed, legless recruiting officer (“the army made me the man I am today!”), and is relentlessly pursued by lovestruck Dina Meyer. Neil Patrick Harris, as their best friend, typically steals every scene he’s in. Continue reading

#musicmonday : MC5 – Kick Out The Jams

Something vintage. I blame Bobby Gillespie for this one. The scene: an independent record shop very much like the one in High Fidelity, and I was a 14 year-old in training to be Jack Black’s character. This was the time when working in a record store was my Number Three Grand Ambition, behind being a music writer and a rock star. It seemed to me about as glamorous. Continue reading

Elvira, Mistress of the Dark

Cop: Do you know you were doing fifty in a twenty five miles per hour zone?
Elvira: No, but if you hum a few bars I’ll fake it.

Elvira, Mistress of the Dark begins with a clip of a cheesy 1950s horror movie (It Conquered The World). If you are giggling by the end of it, you’re going to enjoy the film. If you’re staring in po-faced disapproval, it’s probably best to turn off now. Elvira is a very, very silly little film. Continue reading

Top 100 singles of all time: 90 – Ministry – NWO

You’re wondering why I didn’t pick Jesus Built My Hotrod, right? It is the obvious choice.



But I just love N.W.O. more. It’s one of my earliest memories of clubbing. Sneaking at the age of 14 or so into a dank basement dive in Brighton, drunk on cider, arms flailing on the dancefloor to this and Nine Inch Nails and whatever else the kids were dancing to in those days. Funnily enough, I always thought that it was Ministry’s biggest single, but N.W.O. got to number 11 in the Billboard charts and was nominated for a Grammy.  It was the second single from Psalm 69. Continue reading

7 songs that were much better than the films they were promoting

A great soundtrack accompanying a great film is a uniquely satisfying experience. This can be anything from As Time Goes By in Casablanca to Don’t You Forget About Me in The Breakfast Club. It could be the Mortal Kombat soundtrack (I won’t have a word said against those films!), or it could be Michael Giacchino’s superlative score to Up.

Sometimes, however, there’s a mismatch between the quality of the music and the quality of the film. The promotional single – usually released in advance – might have you all fired up, only to face disappointment when you watch the movie. So here’s a shout-out to some memorable music that accompanied some pretty forgettable films.

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Stop putting yourself out of a job

The inspiration behind my record labels feature for Collapse Board was a perception that some labels are losing sight of how to run their business. This intriguing feature at Scribd highlights how music venues are falling into the same trap.

What this excellent piece, entitled Why LA Club Owners Are Totally Lost and Some Advice for Them from a Professional Musician, sets out are not just my own take on it – “if you’re expecting me to do all this, then precisely what the f*** are you there for?” – but how self-destructive this behaviour is.  Continue reading

The Changing Face of Games

Today in Skyrim, I tried to walk to Morrowind. I’d read that Bethesda had included the Vvardenfell landmass, and tried to climb to the top of a mountain so that I could peek over the peak and see Red Mountain in the distance. Unfortunately, I hit the game’s built in barriers and had to turn back, suddenly feeling desperately homesick for my pixellated paradise. Thwarted, I bumped into an ice troll and decided to leg it, conjuring a dremora and hiding behind a rock. I let the red-faced beastie do my combat for me; I just plain didn’t feel like fighting today.

Trolls of a rather nastier variety greeted Bioware writer Jennifer Hepler, who shut down her Twitter account after a barrage of spiteful personal insults, in part sparked by Bioware’s decision to include the dialogue-light “Action Mode” and combat-light “Story Mode” in Mass Effect 3. More insidiously, some fans were offended by the game’s inclusion of romance options for female and gay characters, leading to the astonishing claim that Bioware is “neglecting the straight male gamer”, despite having four dateable females in Mass Effect 2. It seems that some fans are offended by Bioware letting players play the game they want, when and how they want it.  Continue reading

It’s just like being ambushed in broad daylight

I don’t know why I should feel uncomfortable. I’m not talking about the part where, earlier today, I was walking through town and the underwear I bought a size too big started falling down (thank God I was wearing trousers!). I’m talking about the part where I was sitting in Costa Coffee and they started playing Anna Calvi.  Continue reading

#musicmonday : Snowman – Hyena

I’ve left it a bit late if I wanted to catch Snowman live, since they split up last summer. It’s very difficult to sound that ethereal and still have balls, and only Levitation and Spiritualized spring to mind as bands that pulled that off. Oh, and Warpaint. I wouldn’t call this lot shoegazers, though.  Continue reading