September/October Goings On…

To all those dear people still reading my blog…sorry for the delay… Saturday marked the beginning of a crazy new adventure for me when I set off to university with too many clothes and nice notebooks and not enough pens or work ethic (just kidding for any Uni officials reading this. I’m a good girl, pinky promise). I’ll workout more often (workout my liver, that is), eat well (well, nothing) and watch high quality programmes (Doctors – for anyone with a job, it’s gone terribly raunchy of late *prude face*). I digress; September, the last month of my summer, has been a memorable one…

Bestival – 8th-11th Sept

Top 3:

3 – Public Enemy: I might have been swilling lager like a tramp in a Lidl carpark, but I know a good set when I hear one. The ideology behind old school rap and hip-hop remains current; Chuck D and Flavor Flav – taking time out from plugging his new autobiography with disturbing anecdotes and a Twitter competition – made a brief mention of recent events in London, adding a new dimension to lyrics like “power to the people no delay”. Arriving on stage to the sound of “Fuck The Police” from contemporaries NWA, the group showed themselves to be adept cultural chameleons, striking up an easy rapport with the iPhone-toting Bestival bourgeoisie whilst showing an understanding of the frustration, deprivation and consumer culture which have helped to foster the fragmented Britain of 2011. Public Enemy are proof that not all 50-somethings are in Tim Westwood territory, and that perhaps the oldies are the goodies. Cee Lo Green, of the coincidentally named Goodie Mob is another stellar example of an 80s rap star back on the map…there’s never been a better time for a world tour for the mellowed Public Enemy –  80% timid cautionary tale, 20% thorough call to arms.

2 – Missing Pendulum’s set: I’ve had enough of you for one summer, Pendulum-dum-dum-dum-dum-cue-a-loop-quickly-before-they-realise-we’re-mostly-recorded.

1 – Katy B: I’ve never really been on a mission before, although if I did I think I’d come dressed like Katy B. The sartorial wisdom of her bright red hair, tight pink jeans and hoodie would inspire me, bestow me with a ‘whatyalookinat’ swagger and probably make a perfect Vice Mag ‘Don’t’. What works for a credible Londoner like Katy, it seems, wouldn’t work on others. At times she is dangerously close to being an anachronistic parody of Catherine Tate’s Lauren (it’s mostly the hair and the fairly trivial chat in between songs) but mostly, she is fresh, exciting and credible. You don’t come to a Katy B concert, or likewise go to see her headlining a festival, because you want polished pop which The Saturdays can vomit out along with glitter, sparkles and world peace. Her grit is sexy and cheeky, and her status as more just another shining Brit school alumnus has long been confirmed. I bet her friend Olivia (namechecked both before and during ‘Easy Please Me’) is proud to be the subject of a track which is both stunningly sensual and ironically vapid). I think I’ll reintroduce ghettofabulous to my vernacular.

Also loved: The Cure (even though it wasn’t a Friday set I remained in love); the cool Unicef people who took this ravishing photo of me to send to the government as part of a climate change petition….

… The Guardian’s photobooth complete with a crazy dressing-up box; DJ Fresh’s packed-out Bollywood Tent set in which I sustained third degree burns to my back; surviving on lager and bread; Bjork’s beautiful ginger afro wig (basically a bastardised version of my own hair); the ethereal, almost 70s beauty and calm of the Tomorrow’s World field; Alice Glass’ moodiness (quickest CC set ever, perhaps?); Eating Tesco Value bread to the sound of Fatboy Slim’s Praise You in a scene which was more Trainspotting than a trance hipster 101; slipping in the mud at every possible moment; meeting some incredibly talented clothing and/or jewellery designers like Dot Your Teas And Cross Your Eyes (the jumper in the pic below at Crystal Fighters is one of those made by the lovely, quirky Chloe), Wolf and Moon and of course the beautiful boys and girls of Merrimaking who already left their mark on me at Underage when they gifted some fabulous hoods to Bombay Bicycle Club. It’s the little things like having incredible, up-and-coming brands on site which made Bestival feel so fresh and so different to more corporate affairs…that and the spacious (private) shower cubicles. Props to the Da Bank clan – despite the poor transport arrangements and rain at every possible second, Bestival was incredible and unique.

Crystal Fighters, Shepherd’s Bush, 14th Sept

There’s always a slightly awkward moment when someone pretending to be a music writer decides to drink at a gig instead of actually writing about music and consequently misses most of a band’s set because they were being twee and drinking white wine instead of listening. I’d already missed Crystal Fighters at Benicassim so I suppose my behaviour wasn’t entirely surprising…

Here’s me and my friend Soph looking suitably boozy:

The most memorable bits of Crystal Fighters’ Shepherd’s Bush gig on the 14th September were probably 1) being violently (accidentally) elbowed (standing tickets obvs), 2) almost choking on a Neurofen and 3) singing to their most memorable and popular ditty “I Love London” . Whilst I’m here, I might as well add that I have so much beef with venues like the Empire which decide to open their doors ridiculously early (e.g.: 2 hours before a headline act), leaving silly people like me to predrink half to death. Here’s an incredible review from someone more capable than myself.

The Guardian Young Writers

I was lucky enough to win a place on a two-day Young Writers workshop at The Guardian this September, where I learnt all about pitching and how to get into editors’ heads. Even though I’ve been writing for what seems like ages, like anyone, I find it difficult to condense my ideas and adapt them in order to get those all important commissions. The workshops were so helpful, and I’m so proud of my classmates who’ve since been commissioned like Hannah Slapper, who wrote this incredible piece on Roman Polanksi. Formulating ideas has never been so fun.

DOS and DONTS of filming your music video abroad

After the troubles in Ireland, it seems that Ri Ri’s a bad girl gone somewhat worse. Here are some simple tips for any chanteurs and chanteuses who don’t wish to cause offence in foreign lands. My advice if you see a prudish farmer? Just keep running.

DO:

–         Blend in: Britney Spears recently picked a deli in West Ealing as the location for her ‘Criminal’ video. Her secret appearance was later lauded, and a shrine made of Wilkinson magic mops and jay cloths erected in her honour on the pavement (I’m still working on that). Rihanna take note – not even Battersea Dogs Home will let you get out your puppies in public, so don’t do anything, ahem, flashy.

Get cultured: Adele’s new video for ‘Someone Like You’ is a black and white, Nouvelle Vague-influenced affair filmed in Paris. Plans are said to be underway for a Coach Trip special where she and Luc Besson moodily discuss Monster Munch in a layby.

DON’T:

Ignore the political: Uh oh. Unfortunately, after Britney left the aforementioned deli, she went to Stoke Newington Town Hall to film scenes. With a gun. It might have been a fake, but with the London Riots still a recent memory it was a little insensitive. Plus someone could’ve mistaken her crew for one of those gangs who steal highlighters and treasury tags instead of Armani jackets and BlackBerrys.

‘Borrow’ from your surroundings: Joe ‘Eyebrow’ Jonas used to be one third of the pre-Bieber trio famed for bringing purity rings and properly medicating your diabetes into the mainstream. Like Adele, he decided to get all grown up and film his new video in Paris. Unlike Adele, it seems he couldn’t think of his own ideas. I don’t know what’s more shocking – the fact that he may have ripped something off (we thought you had integrity in that eyebrow, Joe) or that the source material is a saucy French arthouse flick with the vomtastic title ‘For Lovers Only’..

The awkward moment when Joe Jonas didn't slip into the lava and is still alive several years later

…If in doubt, watch this for a masterclass in cultural cohesion:

HJ

xx

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Musical review of the 2000s…written in 2010

Happy new year. I mean it. At the beginning of last decade we were all too busy wondering whether all of our computers would crash and chaos would ensue. Ooh, and it was the beginning of a new century, a new millennium, how extremely novel. 2010, by comparison, snuck up on us like an itchy throat leading to a flu. Yes, I have been bed-ridden due to a horrific flu for the past few weeks, which is when I saw the year ticking away with extreme alacrity. Christmas was pretty good – Mad Men and  30 Rock box-sets of course – but something about 2010 was strangely scary. I started listening to Blur’s ‘End of the Century’ everyday in pensive anticipation before realising that it wasn’t the end of a century at all. It wasn’t even the end of a decade with a particular scent. I thought about all of the cool stuff that has happened since 2000, and none of it really jumped out at me as original. In the 2000s we recycled music, films and books. We remade really good things into not so good things, like Psycho. Even the top 30 films of the decade featured just two originals . Anyways, I digress. I have loved the past 10 years so here is my review:

2000

The year when giants of mainstream metal Metallica sued poor little college boys Napster (future millionaires cough cough). Also the year when Madonna brought out the electronic smash ‘Music’. I’m not sure if I knew what the bourgeoisie was when I was 8, but hell did this tune sound fresh. It still does a little. Madge helped the anti-piracy ship by getting pretty damn angry when this song was leaked on the internet four months early. Can’t mention rebellion in a song and then get angry over errrm rebellion, can you? But still she can do no wrong in my eyes.

hannahjdavies.com’s song of the year: ‘Beautiful Day’ by U2. Yes, it’s the ‘football song’ thanks to our ITV. Yes, it wears pretty thin, pretty quickly…but Bono and co’s ability to create arena anthems full of optimism and pretension is second to none. Philosophical father of music, Michael ‘Losing My Religion, Everybody Hurts’ Stipe stepped off the moral high ground for a second to declare that he wished he’d written the song himself. Bono returned the favour by praising REM’s ‘Reveal’ the following year, but REM haven’t made a record so full of gritty personality and optimism since Shiny Happy People. In 1991. Carpe diem, Mike.

Also love:

2001

The iPod launched in 2001 to much Daily Mail hype. I was still in primary school, so I wasn’t in the first batch of white-headphone-wearers who were mugged for their £200 jukeboxes. ‘A glorified Walkman’ according to my mum…but did a Walkman have Music Quiz, Brickbreaker and a cool b&w screen? Thought not. Too cool, even though there are four ugly control buttons on iPod snr (later removed and integrated into the click wheel). Little did we know that everyone would have an iPod a couple of years later, and prices would drop as a result.

hannahjdavies.com’s song of the year: A huge loss was felt in the world of R&B when soulful sweetheart Aaliyah died aged just 22. I remember being on the motorway as a little un and hearing a news bulletin about her death in a plane crash and feeling really, properly sad despite my geographical location (somewhere in the South of a little island called England). A massive talent had passed away before reaching her prime, and the world mourned her to the sound of ‘More Than A Woman’ from her eponymous, posthumous album which topped the charts in this year. Passion, Instant…a timeless tale of sexy suggestion and no submission from La Haughton.

Also love:

2002

September 11th 2001 was a tragic moment for the whole of the world, and it led comic-book clerk Gerard Way – who at the time couldn’t sing and play guitar at the same time – to form a foetus which later became the phenomenal, global emo spawn ‘My Chemical Romance’. I know I just said ‘carpe diem’ but carpe-ing by starting a band aged 22 with little experience? They were signed in record time and, from 2002 onwards, alt-kids worldwide from Philadelphia to the Philippines clung onto the new breed of dark heroism… and the rest is history.

hannahjdavies.com’s song of the year: Sk8er Boi by Avril Lavinge. I don’t care if you’re laughing, Sk8er Boi pretty much summed up every clichéd ‘she’s out of my league’ love story ever and delivered it to us complete with a backing track that sounded suspiciously like one of those ‘play along’ ones from a Guitar magazine tape. She half-talked, half-sung her way through what I thought was the antithesis to a bubblegum pop song with its narrative of kiss-chaste between a ballet-dancing girl (read: tease) with friends who ‘stuck up their (presumably collective) nose’ at a sk8er boi (yes, we had just discovered texting too). As it turns out, the black-clad, three-chord-playing Avril was actually a blonde in disguise, but we wouldn’t find that out for a few years so let’s just remember the way things were.

Also love:

2003

It was Mrs Robinson Revisited when Simon and Garfunkel embarked on a reunion tour in 2003. Also returning, albeit after a shorter hiatus of two years in 2003 was our Britney with ‘In The Zone’. It was not her best, but shall surely be remembered if only for the graphic ode to Britters’ solo bedroom exploits ‘Touch of My Hand’. Of course, its nothing in comparison to 3 – released sex, sorry, six years later – but it caused a stir at the time, as did squeaky-clean Spears’ VMA kiss with Madonna and Christina Aguilera. The transformation, which had started with the relatively tame wannabe-subjugation of ‘I’m A Slave 4U’ was complete, and set the tone for the decade when Britney would become a bride, mother, mother and bride again, not to mention a shadow of her wholesome 90s persona.

hannahjdavies.com’s song of the year: Delta Goodrem first bounced onto my radar as Nina Tucker on Neighbours. Sadly, I didn’t even need to Wikipedia that fact. The Down Under Diva was destined for stardom like plenty of Ramsay Street residents before her, and in a strange twist from other actress-turned-singer alumni  she actually played a singer in the programme whilst signed to Sony (a trick later reused to launch Caitlin ‘Rachel’ Stasey from schoolgirl to star in 2008/9). Unfortunately Delta had to leave the soap when she was diagnosed with a rare cancer, Hodgkin’s lymphoma, but she recovered and rose to popularity with ‘Born To Try’, a song debuted on the soap. The saccharine-sweet piano and nasal tones gained Delta a UK number 3, which can surely only mean she was robbed. In a strange twist of fate, she ended up with a pop idol from across the globe, Westlife’s Brian ‘Kerry Katona’s leftovers’ McFadden and the pair are currently engaged.

Also love: – NME’s top song of the decade, can you believe it.

2004

The year I went to high school. It makes me feel nervous even now..all of those people, the noise, the crowded spaces, the canteen queues that seemed to stretch for miles in the baking sunshine and the possibility of getting lost on my way to the toilets.  Pantera guitarist ‘Dimebag’ Darrell was shot dead in this year by a mentally ill fan, although it would take me a few more years to discover the genius of 1992’s ‘Vulgar Display of Power’. It was also the year when No Doubt’s Gwen Stefani hit the mainstream with her reggae-rockstar status invigorated with new-found R&B/Harajuku funk fusion to create Love.Angel.Music.Baby, kicking off a L.A.M.B franchise which continues to grow today with a clothes line and (pretty good) perfume.

hannahjdavies.com’s song of the year: Mormon rockgod Brandon Flowers was an 80s dream as he characterised a jealous boyfriend in ‘Mr Brightside’, and when The Killers debuted on Saturday morning kids tv I resented the goody-two-shoes aesthetic of this whiney, shy little man. Who on earth was Brandon Flowers and would he be all over cool lists and future charts with his bashful eau de anti-fame like an American Chris Martin? ‘Mr Brightside’ answered my perplexities with a simple YES with its perfect composition and background-music capabilities. We could choose to listen to this swirl of deliciously repetitive electronic guitar and bass or simply stick it on in the background whilst playing The Sims. And I quite liked that.

Also love:

2005

Kanye West warned us about Golddiggers who don’t mess with no ‘broke niggers’ in 2005 with help from a cast of (deceased) musical legends, a tiny Sheffield band exploded with their odds-on bet that we’d look good on the dancefloor and a cast led by a flower-print catsuit wearing Brazilian ordered us to “make love and listen to death from above”. But there was also a Maroon 5 obsession on my part, probably started due to my obsession with another A Lavinge.

hannahjdavies.com’s song of the year: I first heard ‘Sugar We’re Going Down’ by Fall Out Boy whilst watching an MTV2 chart show, something I used to do pretty often once I had my iPod, iTunes and wanted to waste my iNheritance in advance. One of the first songs I downloaded was this slice of American alternative culture. I hadn’t listened to The Shins or Brand New yet (forgive me, Jesus) but I really liked Fall Out Boy and this schoolboy heartache in a strangely high key for a pop-rock song was comforting. I downloaded a few remixes. I ordered a t-shirt…from America. If only I’d had a premonition – by the end of the 2000s FOB would be trying the R&B route too, and I’d be sleeping in that fetching yellow top. A couple of years later I’d understand those John Hughes refs.

Also love:

2006

My best friend and I used to convene at my house on a Monday after school, and this changed to Friday sometime around 2006. One day – either Monday or Friday, but I will put my bets on Monday because hours of sorting out press releases at NME taught me that most albums are released on a Monday – we raced home. No time for Ritter Sport or gossiping by the funeral directors, no we actually ran home. At home there was a brown package with that familiar black writing – Amazon.com, Amazon.fr, etc etc. We quickly gleaned that it was from Amazon. Even though I had recently bought an iPod, nothing  could’ve compared to my excitement as I unwrapped Red Hot Chili Pepper’s first offering in four years, ‘Stadium Arcadium’ – the first album I had pre-ordered from the internet and the most eagerly anticipated one I have ever wanted. Oh, the disappointment as we discovered the 2 disc mess. Since year 5 I had been ridiculously into the Peppers, probably egged on by a favourite Kiwi teacher who rolled into school wearing a moth-eaten ‘By The Way’ t-shirt and chatted ‘Californication’ and calculators with us. The biggest hit was ‘Dani California’ as I could’ve predicted from this menagerie of sci-fi influences and country casuals, although ‘Storm In A Teacup’ sounded like a haka at a zoo (apologies to the Kiwi teacher).

hannahjdavies.com’s song of the year: Naive – The Kooks. Oh, gosh it’s embarrassing now but for a little while we all loved Luke Pritchard. He was a pale, curly-haired little Lothario from Brighton who patronized a girl beyond belief with this ode to youthful nonchalance and could’ve been the face of a blood transfusion campaign. His pain showed through as he spoke of his adoration giving way to enlightenment: the girl (*cough*Katie Melua*cough) was naive despite her pretty face. Grossly overplayed, it wore thin after a while, once they – along with ‘rivals’  The View had bitten the dust (the busker trend didn’t really continue to top the charts after this point). Little did I know that I’d be jamming away to tales of ‘Wasted Little DJs at a little music festival called Reading in 2009.

Also love:

2007

There were – in my mind – some amazingly hot hits in this year. I discovered DANCE by Justice by way of MySpace (remember those days?) and one of my best friends came to school with Klaxons inked all over her hands. Such a shame that the aforementioned catsuit-wearer got her hands on one of the ‘Golden Skans’ boys but still. My love affair with late-night radio from about 2000 onwards meant I usually just got the best tunes from XFM, and LCD Soundsystem’s ‘North American Scum’ (ahhh haaa haaa) was glamourous, hip-shaking and more 80s than Brandon Flowers et al.  One of NMEs picks of the decade, MIAs ‘Paper Planes’ was released for the first time, but we didn’t know it would go on to feature on the biggest film of the following year.

hannahjdavies.com’s song of the year: Radiohead laid it bare with ‘Nude’ from their revolutionarily-released ‘In Rainbows’. Creeps all over the world paid whatever they wanted to get their hands on the album, which included this unforgettable story with a haunting pessimistic quality. Sound familiar? Possibly, but Thom cut down on the lyrics and focused on the slow-burning instrumentals which made his band famous. The organic, tumultuous yet structured sound which is created warms like a fire at a campsite whilst remaining strangely frigid to the touch. It’s no soulful Karma Police and one interpretation could be that it is about altogether more dark matters, but it holds a link to the past through Yorke’s irreplaceable, fragile vocal.

Also love:

2008

The year where Katy Perry kissed a girl, liked it and hoped her boyfriend didn’t mind it. One of my opening posts for this very website, which you can find using the Archives on the right was all about how very annoying this song had become, but it was still hugely successful and helped to launch a career which has been all about fun, flirting and press coverage. Beyoncé was also turning the tables by wishing she was a boy, and X Factor songstress Leona Lewis surprised the musical world by covering..wait for it..Snow Patrol’s Run. A strange choice, but it was a hit here and in the US, pushing Lewis from Hackney to Hollywood.

hannahjdavies.com’s song of the year: Lollipop certified Lil Wayne as an ODB and also publicised that dreaded Auto Tune which has unfortunately become commonplace in all kinds of music over the past decade. However, it was so catchy that we didn’t care about the misogyny or magic behind this candy-sweet club tune. It was also a posthumous hit for rapper Static Major who produced tracks for artists, including – ironically – the also famed-in-death Aaliyah (see 2001).  Explicit, ringtone-material fare but its popularity showed that Tha Carter could straddle between genres better than 2008’s rap/rock flop ‘Scream’, an album produced by Timbaland for Chris Cornell (a UK number 70).

Also love:

2009

So many brilliant albums were released in 2009. Blur reformed. Springsteen did Glasto (see my archives). Jacko died (see my archives). Lady Gaga burst onto the scene (see my archives). Somewhere in there Kanye (see 2005) even managed to hurt the feelings of a poor little country girl named Taylor Swift. Ok, so a lot of things happened and I wrote about a few of them, so I shall not just be lazy and recycle all of that here. I’ll just cut to the chase: my song of 2009.

hannahjdavies.com’s song of the year: Tik Tok by Ke$ha was essentially ‘Girls Just Wanna Have Fun’ on speed and Auto Tune. Someone stone me?

Oh Ke$ha, how misplaced my adoration might be. Vacuous ode to hedonism “Tik Tok” stuck two very manicured fingers up to frugality in a year which saw culls at independents and even some previously untouchable artists such as Marilyn Manson getting the boot from the majors. Along came a brazen blonde who didn’t have “a care in the world” but did have, in her own words, “plenty of beer”. She encouraged us to go to parties and get “a little bit tipsy”, and although this French (kiss) Revolution was a definite step backwards, some of us started to feel empowered by this sweet antichrist for modern feminism. Yes, she references P ‘sugar daddy’ Diddy and her concept of time is slightly awry…but Ke$ha, your poor oral hygiene (anyone for brushing their teeth with a bottle of Jack?) and Dixie overpronounication made 2009 a little bit more frivolous…like.

Also love:

HAVE A HAPPY DECADE EVERYONE. GRANDS BISOUS AND CHEERS IF YOU READ THE LIST,

x x x x

PS: Thanks to all my readers for helping me get a crazy 2,000-3,000 people a day onto my site a few exciting times in 2009! Cheers to all of the people who’ve helped me get published in 2008-9, and all of those I’ve bugged for directions, phone numbers or press passes. It’s really appreciated, and I hope to work with even more great people and organizations this decade.

Single review and notation


Here’s a rather dated review, unfortunately.

It was one, however, which the NME team commended me on…so I’m rather proud of it.

Take one Southern, wholesome Christian girl and craft her into a warped Britney-Spears-meets-Dita-Von-Teese creation. Not much craft needed, you might argue, to breadcrumb gently and sex her up like a 2003 dossier.

After Frankenstein, Frankenstein’s Bride and Steve Brookstein came KATY PERRY. After all, Katheryn did sound dismally dyslexic didn’t it?

Katy Perry Pictures, Images and Photos

Looking more Circus than Brit herself here dressed in a gorgeous Manish Arora number for the MTV Awards, Perry seemed like she could be the next Gwen Stefani. Sans baby. Sans famous/successful partner (sorry, but dating Mr Cupid’s Chokehold makes you a target for some hardcore Supertramp fans. And maybe just some tramps as well).


…After all, Travis would probably end up ruining this guy’s Breakfast too…albeit at the Lidl car park, Southall…

Anyhow, I digress, as back in August I couldn’t be fooled by her faux-lesbian charm, which is why I wrote this:


Katy Perry
I Kissed A Girl (Virgin)

Perry screeches like Avril circa 2002, yet she can make you feel more uncomfortable than a bad summer heat rash. An upbeat tune which is club friendly but only because it will be played so loudly that her supposedly “risqué” lyrics could be anything. Blatantly playing on the Daily Mail controversy of it all, she presents contrived, unoriginal ideas over and over again. It’s squeamishly laboured with clichés about Chapstick lips, plus a badly-scanning ‘boyfriend’ line, desperately added in – probably on the advice of management. Poor girl even blames the drink…just in case we thought she was Tipping The Velvet. We didn’t anyway.*


*December 2008:

There are so many reasons to love Santa Barbara, California, besides Katy Perry having possibly, maybe, perhaps, once upon a time, curiously, wondrously stared at a girl’s legs during games class, whilst growing up  in the shadow of the real riot girls of the 80s and 90s. Unfortunately political lesbianism throughout the ages was supposed to liberate women and disassociate men, rather than turn them on. This isn’t so much as political as professional.

I do recommend, in lieu of Katy, Joan Jett – a bonafide lesbian but, besides that, she can actually sing. Right now ‘the real Katy’ as we are supposed to believe, sounds like ‘the obviously unreal and oversexed’ Britney cover of Jett’s I love Rock and Roll which was well…cringeworthy.