60 Years of the Christmas Number One: 1993 – 2012

Girls Aloud image from wikipedia by XL XR2

Since 2002, the winners have usually been TV talent show contestants. From 2005 to 2010, the winners of The X Factor headed the charts each year, until fed up pop fans started the Facebook campaign to pitch Rage Against The Machine for the number one spot instead. This was the first Christmas number one with a download-only single, and achieved the most download sales in a single week in UK chart history. 
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22 Great albums you might have missed in 2012

of montreal paralytic stalks

I’ve just stumbled across this link at Buzzfeed, listing some interesting-looking releases from 2012. I’ve not finished going through the list yet, but I’ve had Paralytic Stalks on my to-buy list for months, and anything by Girls Aloud is usually worth a listen. Interesting to see Dexys and Carly Rae Jepsen in the same list: I’ve repeatedly heard great things about Dexys (mostly from Everett True) but if there’s more to Ms Call Me Maybe than first appears, I’m all ears …

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First Impressions: Nicola Roberts – Cinderella’s Eyes

Forget Cheryl bloody Cole or any of the other dollies with the Oompa Loompa tans – Nicola Roberts was always as interesting as she was pale. The pretty one from Girls Aloud, she also turns out to have the best songs – and frankly a fairly impressive voice.  Let’s get this straight before we start: this is not what you’re expecting. Continue reading

Pop vs Rock

Written for Collapse Board

Before they switched off Pandora in the UK, I found its deliberately anti-genre stance interesting because it would place frivolous ‘pop’ songs next to ‘credible’ artists. It’s probably stretching it to call any of these ‘rock’, but they’re of the type admired by people who don’t generally buy records by Beyonce, etc.

Stripped of the genre tag, note for note, there’s really not much difference between the songs. Wallace Wylie pointed out what’s wrong with the package of pop. If you take that away, you’ve got some great music that the middle-aged chin-strokers would probably like if they just started thinking of it as music. For example:  Continue reading

Structurally Unsound

Listening to MGMT yesterday, I began to wonder if people had forgotten how to write great songs. “How can you say that?” I hear you cry. “Electric Feel is a great song”, to which I’d counter, “Electric Feel has a great hook; it is not a great song.”

Great songs have rules – surprisingly rigid ones at that. It’s not that the songs that obey those rules are automatically good, but that the ones that break those rules are almost universally bad.
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