Woo here it is!! I have been coughing and sneezing my way through the past few weeks, but I have some amazing memories blogging for Cornetto at the Isle of MTV Malta Special so all is kind of balanced, plus I’m back at home in London for the summer which is exciting.
Musical magical musings from Malta and too much alliteration as always
MTV & Cornetto teamed up for the second year running to put on a massive concert in Il Fossos Square in the capital, Valeta, (the local taxi driver who picked my friend Josephine and I up from the airport looked at me blankly as I said the name of the square – one thing that Lonely Planet will never tell you is that locals simply call it “Fossos”). I went to blog, and to soak up the Vitamin D.
Here’s our hotel, which was lovely but really, really near Fossos:
From our balcony where I watched France 24 and ate apples whilst staring out at the beautiful waterfront, I could hear every single note of the soundchecks!! About four hours after arriving in the beautiful, boiling Mediterranean I was being whisked away to interview Will.i.am. I’d hoped for a bit more time to ask him some questions on his future musical plans, his life, his cool jackets etc. but I only had about two/three minutes. They were some of the longest few minutes of my life however; I don’t think I’ve ever interviewed someone so well known, plus MTV News filmed it. Up to now I’ve only done a teeny bit of presenting, but it’s definitely something I’d love to do more of in the future 🙂 Here we are chilling on the balcony of his incredible hotel suite:
The video is on the Cornetto Facebook page under the ‘Summer of Music’ tab!
That evening, we had dinner with the PR peeps and Cornetto crew, plus my Italian counterparts who had come to blog – Giuliana and Denis from Style.it and Federica (Elle.it). I had sushi for the first time in months, maybe a year, which was nice, and we got to see Malta at night. Without sounding like an infomercial from Malta’s tourism board it really wasn’t what I was expecting at all. Ageing population plus ancient attractions like the cathedral and Fossos…it doesn’t exactly sound like a typical teen hangout! That’s why I was so surprised to find the following evening that there are actually LOADS of teens in Malta (or perhaps the entire teen population were just all at Isle of MTV haha). On Tuesday 26th June there were crowds everywhere in the previously peaceful streets surrounding Fossos, where a huge stage had been constructed. As my photo shows, there were thousands of people in the square when things started at around 7…wish we had more free events like this in the UK…
We had an incredible view of proceedings from the VIP viewing platform with its red carpet…it also had an open bar (two best words in the English language right there!).
Eva Simons defied gravity/the Maltese wind to perform with her trademark mohawk standing to attention. She kicked off the action wearing a tartan skirt; this along with Kourtney Kardashian’s recent decision to name her daughter Penelope Scotland, Andy Murray’s journey to the Wimbledon final and the Caledonian party at the end of the last season of Made In Chelsea mean I should probably dig out my own well-loved tartan skirts…
Back to Malta, where Eva absolutely killed it. She also dueted on “This Is Love” with Will.i.am – it’s always nice to see a duet recreated properly rather than the awkward backing track technique (see: Professor Green stumbling through “Just Be Good To Green” without Lily Allen at last year’s Benicassim/any other festival). Her performance came after some weird warm up action from Maltese DJ Pierre Cordina (or, as Josephine quipped, was it Jason Statham? You can be the judge…)
Nelly Furtado continued the holy quadrinity of big name acts with an incredible set; for a 33 year old (with an 8 year old daughter no less) she looked not a day over 25! Highlights were “I’m Like A Bird”…it never fails to make me smile…and “Big Hoops (Bigger The Better)” which is nineties-themed nonsense but so dancy and upbeat.
The brash and inimitable Flo Rida was up next, simultaneously making us move and cringe with his in-your-face, sexually-charged lyrics on hits including “Low” and “Whistle”. He crowd-surfed, handed out roses during “Wild Ones” and waved a gigantic Maltese flag around (what a lovely gesture to all of those old Maltese folk, eh?)
Will.i.am proved that he was the hardest ever…his set featured pyrotechnics, blinding lights, circus performers from chic London hotspot Cirque Du Soir (note to self.: MUST get there sometime soon). He was also joined by Tyler James, one of his mentees on The Voice UK, and showed some skillful beatmatching (Gotye into Guetta??) during his DJ set.
At the VIP afterparty around the corner at another hotel, we managed to stay up all night long, and there was even more free food and drink like at the concert! WIN! I think I might just become a celebrity so that I never have to go to Tesco again.
The pool looks SO gorgeous…I was one of a sober few who refrained form jumping in but I wish I had in hindsight!
We got a cheeky snap with Eva Simons – she looks incredible for someone who had probably been awake for about 36 hours. This was taken at around 3am I reckon…
In the morning we had an extremely random breakfast from the biggest spread I’d ever seen in a hotel (ricotta? a fry up? exotic fruits? don’t mind if I do…) After a powernap (just kidding, we really did stay awake til the plane journey) it was time to bid a tearful goodbye to gorgeous Malta. Somewhere between 5am and breakfast one of the MTV guys had told me that Malta’s name was derived from the Greek for “honey” – looking out over the golden sunrise I really hoped that this etymological tale was true and not just traveller’s bullshit. I don’t think Lonely Planet has the answer, it’s probably something only the Fossos-dwelling locals would know…
Brainchild Festival, Wokingham
So, I’d barely been home a moment when I decided it would be a good idea to camp in a field in a two-man tent which was most definitely designed with very small people in mind in the middle of nowhere and write very long, sprawling sentences about my experiences. We didn’t even know the location of Brainchild Festival until the 11th hour, and on Google Maps it appeared to be completely isolated; was this in fact some spurious mafia plot? An ironic non-festival-festival like this year’s Glastonbury coverage ? It turned out to be cracking, however – you can read all about it here.
Other mad festivals headed your way…
–Zoo Project Festival – 14th-1th Sept, Port Lympne Wild Animal Park, Kent: The best summer combo since Pimms and lemonade is surely EDM and wild animals. A spinoff of Ibiza’s Zoo Project event, this looks insane.
-Eurostar Traction, Granary Sq, London – 14th Jul: The best of Europe’s musical offerings offer 3,000 guests a chance to celebrate London 2012 without stepping foot in a velodrome (or indeed, on the Eurostar).
Gaggle, Village Underground
Here’s my review of Gaggle’s album launch show last Wednesday in Shoreditch for The Fly. It was one of the weirdest gigs I’ve ever been to, and made Incubus at Brixton Academy a mere few days later look like the height of corporate rock. Gaggle have no rules, no boundaries and no pretences.
GIRLS are gone (as in the band, not women per se)
It is with great sadness that we say goodbye to Girls. Like LCD Soundsystem before them, they’ve gone before their time. I’ll miss them, although it’s probably better not to carry on with a new singer (they could end up sounding like a Kings Of Leon tribute band). What will C Owens do next?
Now, that I can’t rely on any new Girls tracks, here’s what I am listening to:
– Angel Haze – New York: she’s not Azealia Banks…she’s even ruder.
– Two Wounded Birds – To Be Young: It’s so jaunty yet britpop angsty…I love this Suede-influenced imagining of youth, as opposed to that which Tulisa peddles. Also, watch out for that almost-key change – that was a surprise, right?
– Cat Power – Ruin: She’s been to a multitude of places as her lyrics confirm…and Chan Marshall has fought her personal demons to bounce back with this slice of Californian-inspired funk with an international spin. Worth a listen if only for her cool pronunciation. Someone’s been listening to Rosetta Stone…
Crap, Soundwave’s almost here and I don’t have the bikini I’m coveting yet. Can’t wait to head to gorgeous Croatia to cover it for Live Magazine! Roll on boat parties and incredible music from…
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
– NME’s top song of the decade, can you believe it.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.