Sunday, November 30, 2008
I said it before and I'll say it again - beware of the Borg. For he is going to win it. Even though my view has not changed that he is a boy-in-search-of-a-boyband and there is nothing really special about him. He is very confident though.
Anyone else think that Robin bears a spooky visual resemblance to Markus Fagervall? Robin does have a good voice though, but again he lacks star quality.
And what's with the restyling of Alice into some kind of Beyonce clone? It just doesn't suit her at all - she is far too 'nice' for that style.
To be honest I don't really care who wins this year, but will continue to watch it anyway.
Strictly Come Dancing: this programme is being spoiled now by the crawling favouritism shown by the judges towards Rachel Stevens and ultra-desperate Lisa Snowdon, whilst Tom Chambers and Austin Healey don't seem to be their flavour of the month any more. Do not underestimate the Great British Public - for they do not love Rachel the way you do, dear judges, and she found herself in the bottom two. Poor Christine Bleakley didn't have a chance however as the judges took the opportunity to save their fave.
Worst moment of the week: when Arlene Phillips dared to compare Ms Stevens to Alesha Dixon. Umm....no, I don't think so. Alesha had it all and she could dance, but as for Rachel - well, she does nothing, the girl does nothing. Except pose.
I want a Tom vs Austin final, not just because they're the best dancers but also because their partners Camilla and Erin seem to be getting genuine enjoyment out of it, whilst the professional males Brendan and Vincent are just too tense now.
I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here: Celebrities? Sorry but who are Brian Paddick and Nicola McLean? (A dour personality-free ex top cop, and a pneumatic Jordan wannabe-WAG). Only David Van Day is keeping the carcrash quota up this year, and for that reason he must be kept in, especially now that his partner in crime Timmy Mallett is gone. Joe Swash, ex of Eastenders, has the sufficient cheeky-chappie quality to win, but who knows?
Star Academy: the semi-final line-up is now known. It's the talented singers (Joanna and my favourite Mickels) versus the Chosen One (perma-scowling Gautier) versus the People's Favourite (Alice, aka Elodie Frege Mk II). There was no room for Solene, who looked the part but her inconsistent performances let her down.
Dansbandskampen: Scotts and Larz-Kristerz....oh wait, it wasn't on this week, replaced by some Nordic junior Eurovision nonsense. Normal service is resumed next week!
Saturday, November 29, 2008
"Fangad i en Drom" which he sang in Dublin in 1981 was my favourite of his two entries, although I never figured out the significance of the gloves :) indeed his styling was completely wrong but his vocals were just right for the drama of the song. http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=qKd8aqEqbVw
"Det Blir Alltid...." from Paris in 1978: indeed his styling wasn't any better three years earlier either, this achieved notoriety in Sweden for him just making up the words as he went along. http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=LYoPjN0CbXI&feature=related
I was listening to a few Mansun songs on my iPod today and wondered why I hadn't featured them here before now. "Attack of the Grey Lantern" was a fab album which I played and played and played for a long long time.
"She Makes My Nose Bleed" was a great record. In this video, http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=-8MPDK0gW9w, lead singer Paul Draper looks as if he's paying tribute to Midge Ure!
"Wide Open Space": http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=tj7aNPWbvgo&feature=related again a very well crafted and produced song, maybe forgotten now but a classic of its time.
"Six": http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=jpYNvwmlrJY&feature=related An amazing song. This was from later on in their career. I know they weren't always the media's favourite band but I thought they were great, that's what we are missing at the moment - inventive, creative guitar bands rather than the generic indie rubbish which is played to death on Radio 1 :(
"Return of the Mack" was one truly magical musical moment from 1996 from a man who was better known for his criminal record, notably when he got someone else to do his community service. The video is just bling-soaked and as close to hip hop parody as you can get: http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=uB1D9wWxd2w
Friday, November 28, 2008
Thursday, November 27, 2008
Telly is really poor at the moment isn't it! No wonder I prefer blogging.
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Voting is open at www.grammis.se between now and 10 December, then the final shortlists will be announced.
Here are the nominees in some of the main categories:
Best Album: Amanda Jenssen / Anna Ternheim / E.S.T. / Frida Hyvönen / Håkan Hellström / Hello Saferide / Kleerup / Lykke Li / Titiyo /Veronica Maggio
Best Group: Backyard Babies / Bo Kaspers Orkester / BWO / Dungen / Eldkvarn / Fatboy / Hästpojken / Kent / The Hellacopters / The Soundtrack Of Our Lives
Best Dance/Hip-Hop/Soul: Afasi & Filthy / Chords / Firefox Ak / Form One /Lazee / Looptroop Rockers / Melo / Petter / Sophie Rimheden / The Last Days Of Disco
Best Dansband/Schlager: Charlotte Perrelli / Christer Sjögren / Drifters / Lasse Stefanz / Linda Bengtzing / Rongedal / Sarek / Sten & Stanley / Streaplers / Thorleifs
Best Newcomer: Afasi & Filthy / Amanda Jenssen / Anna Maria Espinosa / Detektivbyrån / Hästpojken / Joel Alme / Juvelen / Kleerup / Lazee / Markus Krunegård
Best Female Artist: Amanda Jenssen / Anna Maria Espinosa / Anna Ternheim / Frida Hyvönen / Hello Saferide / Lykke Li / Miss Li / Sophie Zelmani / Titiyo / Veronica Maggio
Best Male Artist: Eric Gadd / Håkan Hellström / Juvelen / Kleerup / Markus Krunegård / Per Gessle / Timbuktu / Timo Räisänen / Tingsek / Ulf Lundell
Best Live Act: Lars Winnerbäck / Robyn / Håkan Hellström / In Flames / Björn Skifs / The Hellacopters / Ulf Lundell / Veronica Maggio / Peter Lemarc / Lykke Li
Best Song: Empty Room - Sanna Nielsen / Hero - Charlotte Perrelli / Do You Love Me - Amanda Jenssen / Jennie Let Me Love You - EMD / Måndagsbarn - Veronica Maggio / Det Är Hon - Brolle / Lay Your Love On Me - BWO / On And On - Agnes / Jag Är En Vampyr - Markus Krunegård / Longing For Lullabies - Kleerup Feat. Titiyo
The Swedish press are focusing on the female domination of the Swedish music scene in 2008 and this is certainly reflected in the nominations so far.
I'm not really too bothered who wins all the awards this year as it's not like last year when I did want a certain person to win everything (!) however the list just once again proves the diversity of musical talent coming out of Sweden.
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Star Academy - first week of all contestants being up for the public vote, and the two out this week were Edouard and Anissa. How these two can be evicted yet Alice and Gautier remain in the contest...it's all down to popularity again folks!
Dansbandskampen - oh, just give the title to Scotts and be done with it! As Poster Girl reported, Scotts have been given a song to sing at next year's Melodifestivalen and I reckon they should do quite well. They would appear to be the natural successors to Barbados, appealing to both the older dansband fans as well as a younger market. Yet another foregone conclusion this week as Larz-Kristerz also went through along with Scotts to meet (and presumably beat off) next week's batch of contenders.
I don't think she'll be back at MF for a little while, but I'm sure she'll be back some day - hopefully as good as this.
Normal service should be resumed tomorrow night, now that this holiday nonsense is over! - as the 2008-50 gets back to two songs per night and the countdown continues.
In recent years the worlds of musical theatre and pop success have been interchangeable in France. After Kamel Ouali's hugely successful "Le Roi Soleil" we were all eager to see what he'd come up with next. Answer: a musical about Cleopatra, with Star Academy 3's Sofia Essaidi in it. That's certainly ok with me, and so was the first single from the soundtrack album (which I bought on my travels in Nice). "Femme..." is less the sound of ancient Egypt and more influenced by "Umbrella" ...a totally contemporary sound and a welcome return for Ms Essaidi. The musical hits the stage in Paris early in 2009.
Monday, November 24, 2008
It had been 13 years since we first visited Dublin for a holiday. Earlier this year we briefly returned for a friend's wedding and we got the urge to go back yet again. This time we decided to do some more obvious touristy things like the sightseeing bus tour for example, although we ran out of time to visit the Guinness Storehouse. Something we did do was cross the famous Halfpenny Bridge (pictured above).
Last night we went in search of the "craic" and found a bar with some live Irish music - great stuff!
Dublin has changed so much. It's such an international city now - we hardly heard an Irish voice when we were there, what with the numerous tourists and also the influx of young Eastern Europeans who, it would appear, almost exclusively dominate the 'service industries'.
One other notable change is the steep rise in prices of everything from food and drink to clothes and consumer items. The Euro is very strong against the pound at the moment (I think that's the expression), therefore we're not really getting good value at the moment - whereas many Irish citizens are heading to Northern Ireland for their bargain shopping. However, we saved up our money and consequently...spent it!!
I'm not really a fan of weekend breaks, as I don't feel that two nights is ever enough for anywhere, but Dublin fits the bill perfectly as it's compact and within easy reach. It may not be the most beautiful/picturesque city in Europe, but it has an irresistible buzz which you can't resist. Well worth a return visit, and if you haven't been yet then you have to go!!
Friday, November 21, 2008
Can't believe how the whole John Sergeant saga on "Strictly Come Dancing" made the front page of almost every newspaper in this country this week. Basically, the guy was good entertainment and was to dancing what George Bush was to world peace - but as the weeks progressed he became a cult figure. The more the judges hated him, the more the public loved him, and he was the latest in a long line of "vote for the worst" candidates.
Faced with the serious possibility of actually winning the thing, Sergeant quit the show a couple of days ago. But did he jump or was he pushed? That, we will never know.
So now Strictly goes back to being a serious dance competition, but the problem is that some of them are taking it a bit toooo seriously, and the more serious it gets, the less entertaining it becomes. The fun needs to be put back into Strictly Come Dancing, and fast.
Anyway, I'm off now to get an early night and I'll be back on Monday.
Bye y'all! X
Thursday, November 20, 2008
2008-50: No. 43 - Since I've lived in your shade, every step that I made brought me nothing but zero
One of those songs this year which actually had a life beyond ESC for me, even though I didn't really appreciate it at the time. I can't really say why I like it, but it has that certain ooomph (!)about it and is rather dance-pop-tastic in its own way.
The 2008-50 will be back on Monday 24th (or more likely, Tuesday 25th) with more of my favourite songs of the year.
If someone had said to me at the beginning of 2008 that I would actually like a Madonna song I wouldn't have believed a word. But she threw Timbaland and Timbalake into the mix, which is always a good thing in this blogger's world. The result was ''4 Minutes'' which despite (still) being played to death I still never really got sick of it.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Norway’s MGP delivered a reasonably successful winner - Maria Haukaas Storeng’s "Hold On Be Strong" - but this was a particular favourite of mine with its 80s New Romantic vibe and mad, nonsensical lyrics. Rachel at the brilliant Work Your Magic also loved this too!
You'll have noticed that I've posted four songs from my chart tonight, because after tomorrow I won't be posting anything again till Monday. Another two songs tomorrow though.
Where would my annual chart be without an appearance from everyone's favourite Spanish-language German pop combo? No offence to No Angels, but I can't help thinking that Marquess would have done better if they were chosen to represent Germany at ESC this year. The Marquess formula is a simple, tried and tested one - feelgood Spanish-language pop. This wasn’t as good as the legendary "Vayamos Companeros" but I liked it enough to have it in my top 50 nonetheless.
Almost a third of my songs this year are by Swedish acts and here is the first of them. This was the most played song on Swedish radio in 2008, and co-written by Vincent Pontare, a guarantee of pop quality in itself. An international hit of sorts (well, it was big in Latvia when I was there!) Danny spent most of 2008 as a member of E.M.D. (more from them later) but is now making his solo return with "Radio" and forthcoming album.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
From left to right, the nominees are:
I think Anissa and Edouard could be in some danger this week: it will also be interesting to see just how popular (the profs' favourite) Joanna is with the public. Gautier and Alice would appear safe and I hope that Mickels is too. Don't know about Solene - my opinion of her varies from week to week.
I've always liked this dance act which has produced some great records in the past, "Love On My Mind" and "Uninvited" being two good examples. Recently they've been responsible for some equally fab remixes, notably Beyonce's "Green Light" and Kelly Rowland's "Work" (more of that later). This was a more mid-paced track with its 60s influenced video. The song became one of my summer favourites - even though we didn't actually have a summer - but like many of the other songs in my chart, it didn't quite achieve the success it deserved.
"We Keep On Rockin'" - Alcazar.
My chart begins with, I suppose you could call it the 'comeback' single from legendary Swedish pop combo Alcazar. Although (IMHO) there is something not quite right about an Alcazar without Annikafiore, or indeed later addition Magnus Carlsson, it is still reassuring to know that they are around and making music again. I haven't really been too keen on their follow-up material to this single, but am still excited at (only rumours so far) the possibility of them doing MF again.
Same format as last year: two songs per day, counting down till I reach number one on Sunday 14th December, if my calculations are right.
I was due to start the countdown on Thursday night but as I'll be away on Saturday and Sunday then I'm starting it early, so that should explain it. :)
So let's begin!
Sunday, November 16, 2008
Great to see it being given another chance to crack the UK charts - hope it succeeds this time. It's no. 96 on the iTunes chart, oh well I guess we all have to start somewhere!!
I'll do some singles charts updates soon, can't promise when as it's going to be quite a busy week though.
Star Academy - Gautier, Anissa and Quentin nominated. Yes you read it right, Alice escaped nomination for once! Gautier saved by the viewers, Anissa saved by the students and out goes Quentin. Patricia Kaas was guest of honour this week, other guests included Etienne Daho and Natasha St-Pier. Same old, same old as Joanna stays top although I still can't see her winning. I would like Mickels to win, but I can't see him winning either. Beware of the Gautier!
Strictly Come Dancing - tough one to call this week. Jodie back on form, Rachel overrated, Austin and Tom both being wonderful as usual and John being praised. Yes you read it right. He's not supposed to be praised, he's not supposed to improve. We want a bad, bad, bad John, to give us a performance to equal his paso doble!! Spoiler fans will know the result, all I'll say is yet again the bottom two are a bit surprising. And of course Heather Small's not there anymore for her predictable place in the bottom two :)
Edit 17.11.08: Cherie and Lisa in the bottom two, Cherie voted off in the dance-off. Ironically this was the first week I enjoyed her performance, maybe it was a bit too "different" for her usual voters.
This show needs to decide if it's a dancing competition or "Vote For The Worst" !!
Dansbandskampen - haven't seen it yet but uproar in the Swedish press at yet another predictable outcome for Larz-Kristerz and Scotts - and lots of demand to change the rules. Looks like they might need to, if this goes on!
Twelve Fingers - Salem Al Fakir: likewise.
Human - The Killers: some love it, some hate it. I'm just happy to have them back...
They Said I Said - Sugarush Beat Company: so relentlessly catchy yet like many other great tracks this year, wasn't a hit single. Expect this one in the 2008-50, coming soon!
Crying Blood - VV Brown: looks like this is yet another brilliant track which has missed out on UK chart success :(
Would You Believe - Daniel Karlsson: still listening to this on YouTube although several uploaded versions of the video have now been removed. Cracking little song though.
What’s Your Name - Christian Walz: nice little uplifting song from the Swedish chart. The backing track is very reminiscent of an old Daft Punk song, the name of which escapes me right now. His vocal style isn’t a million miles away from Salem’s, which is a good enough reason to like this.
Just Dance - Lady GaGa: according to release schedules this will finally get a UK release at the end of December. Hooray!
The Swedish Grammy Awards will take place on 07.01.09 in Stockholm. Looking forward to this, and hoping that a certain favourite Swedish singer of mine who won four awards back in January 2008 will be there at least to present an award!!
Saturday, November 15, 2008
Steve Levine produced Culture Club's hit records and in the mid-80s decided to make one of his own - "Believin' It All" which was co-written by Boy George, and which I always thought was a nice little pop-reggae song worth featuring here!
Anyway Falco hasn't been on Retro Saturday yet so now's the time I guess...
"Rock Me Amadeus"- this was his biggest hit in the UK: http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=P6LSVNabJak&feature=related
"Vienna Calling" - which I specially dedicate tonight to faithful travelling companion as this seems to be his favourite !! : http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=LhqAIXsaydM
"Der Kommissar" - I always liked this one!: http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=uGEEBUupVAw&feature=related
There was also an English-language version of "Der Kommissar" by After The Fire, so let's have this too: http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=Guvo7gUdUnE
I didn't realise I'd put "Maria Magdalena" on my iPod until a few days ago. I'd gone to Morrisons at lunchtime for some shopping (aah, such a glamorous life for this blogger) and on my way back to the office what came on my shuffled tunes but ..."Maria Magdalena" and I guess this was giving me some kind of subliminal message to feature the German 80s pop princess on Retro Saturday. It's maybe dated now, but dated in a soooo catchy kind of way!!
In a strange way, I'm quite excited about Ultravox reforming and might even consider going to see them live in 2009. Once a New Romantic fan, always a New Romantic fan I guess :)
"Vienna" would be an obvious one to feature but as Retro Saturday usually goes down a less obvious route, I've gone for my two favourite Ultravox songs "The Voice" http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=wiM_SD66_LQ
"All Stood Still": this one is a 1981 Top of the Pops performance: http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=AA3ymosvXbg
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
I'm so happy :))))
Monday, November 10, 2008
Sunday, November 09, 2008
Last night's show was, like last week, a mixed bag of dances.
Tom and Camilla - Quick Step: despite Tom injuring himself early in the week, it didn't stop him from delivering a light-footed perfect routine which maybe was a little over-the-top but very enjoyable nevertheless.
Jodie and Ian - Samba: we've got a soft spot for Jodie here, because you can see her making progress over the duration of the competition. We knew though that she's struggle in Latin, purely because she's too tall and in this dance, a little too wooden.
Heather and Brian - Tango: looked as if there was some tension last night between queen of the bottom two Heather and her partner. She'd improved, but her problem was that she's still holding back.
Austin and Erin - Rhumba: I never think this is much of a dance and I prefer Austin in more active mode. He appeared uncomfortable and lacked oomph - and even received criticism from the judges!
Cherie and James - Waltz: I reckon she's the most overrated contestant this year, and this got the predictable praise and big marks from the judges.
Christine and Matthew - Jive: Christine can be a little bland and boring but her jive was certainly lively and had more to it than Rachel's jive from last week.
Rachel and Vincent - American Smooth: credit where it's due, I thought this was one of the best of the night - a very high speed smooth like you've never seen before.
John and Kristina - Cha Cha Cha: but not as we know it. Not quite as legendary as his paso doble, but this guy still has such a sense of fun, and Kristina is still in on the joke. Merited one point from Craig Revel Horwood, and only 12 from the judges in total.
Lisa and Brendan - Viennese Waltz: the VW isn't one of my favourite dances anyway and I can't tell a good one from an average one, but this was pretty good I guess.
Jodie and John were bottom two this week.
I read the spoilers last night over at Digital Spy so if you want to find out who went then head on over there to the Strictly forum. All I'll say is....the viewers and the judges have a very different outlook indeed.
To non-Swedes, dansband is a glorious and somewhat cheesy mystery: I suppose the nearest British equivalent is those cabaret bands in working men's clubs who play the same songs to the same people, week after week.
Now, SVT has taken the talent-show concept and given it a uniquely Swedish twist. "Dansbandskampen" is a weekly Saturday night contest which, I read somewhere (can't remember where) that it's hammering rival TV4's "Stjärnor på is" in the ratings. I decided to check it out last week and was immediately hooked. The two hot favourites, Larz-Kristerz and Scotts, progressed to this week's show (which I haven't seen yet - but I know they've made it through to next week). Larz-Kristerz is possibly the worst-dressed band you have ever seen, even by dansband standards, but their selling point is their cover versions of some very unlikely songs - I bet you've never heard "Purple Rain" done dansband-style!!
Scotts are less outrageously dressed and are more pop than dansband - they reminded me of Barbados, maybe it's the blonde singer, but seem to have a wider appeal beyond the more traditional dansband audience. I could see them at Melodifestivalen!
Above: Scotts frontman Henrik, subject of many a Swedish middle-aged woman's crush at the moment...
Above: the Dansbandskampen jury with presenter Peter Settman. Yes that is Magnus Carlsson, he's on the jury...another reason to watch!!
Johan Palm - "Poison" : think a blonde version of Tokio Hotel-Bill, and you get the idea. I thought he was rather good, and I liked his black nail varnish :))
Kevin Borg - "Livin' On A Prayer": unfortunately my view hasn't really changed that our Kevin is a boy in search of a boyband. He was good though, and I think he'll go quite far now. Possible winner??
Alice Svensson - "Heaven's On Fire": she's too nice and sweet to rock-out, so was probably one of the more unconvincing rockers tonight, but she has (as Simon Cowell once said) the "likeability factor" so we'll let her away with it.
Robin Bengtsson - "Dude Looks Like A Lady" : if Aerosmith need a replacement for Steven Tyler, Robin B did his best to impress :)
Lars Eriksson - "Smells Like Teen Spirit" : our hero decided not to sing a Desmond Child song in favour of the Nirvana song. Let's face it, he didn't do it justice, but who cares, he is Lars Eriksson and he made Idol 2008 interesting for a while.
Anna Bergendahl - "Save Up All Your Tears" : she is in with a great chance of winning now, however as all us "Idol" fans know now, it's better not to win.
Robin Ericsson - "You Give Love A Bad Name": he was very comfortable on this one. although I don't think he'll last too long, but he did "I Surrender" by Rainbow a few weeks ago, and we love that song so he's ok!!
Saturday, November 08, 2008
Thursday, November 06, 2008
Basically, for those who've just joined us, Lars auditioned for Swedish Idol and from that moment he became one of the hot favourites. And then the finals started and slowly he began to bring a subversive touch - his deliberately awful "Money Money Money" on Abba week: http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=S_p5nbTCKek culminating in last week's irreverent performance on schlager week: http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=emYJUsq9cOM
The producers called it disrespectful and wanted him out: since then the Swedish tabloids have gone into overdrive and he's either flavour of the week or public enemy number one.
Anyway his latest 'crime' was to snub this week's special guest, top rock songwriting legend Desmond Child, and choose not to sing one of his songs but instead have a go at "Smells Like Teen Spirit". Sounds like a disastrous move, I think I'll sit on the fence this time and not even dare to predict if he'll stay or go this week.
Johan Palm: "Poison" - Alice Cooper
Lars Eriksson: "Smells Like Teen Spirit" - Nirvana
Anna Bergendahl: "Save up all your tears" - Cher
Robin Eriksson: "You give love a bad name" - Bon Jovi
Robin Bengtsson: "Dude looks like a lady" - Aerosmith
Alice Svensson: "Heaven's on fire" - Kiss
Kevin Borg: "Living on a prayer" - Bon Jovi
Same old songs again..it will be interesting to see what under-fire Lars does with Nirvana. With only two girls left it looks as if one of the boys will go this week, I reckon it will be one of the Robins.
Tuesday, November 04, 2008
...au revoir Maryline. The viewers (if there are any left, if the French media is to be believed), in Groundhog Day-style will save Alice and the students will save Edouard.
Guests on this week's prime:
Last week it was announced on a top French radio show that this would be the final series of Star Ac. TF1 and Endemol moved quickly to deny this, but the French rumour machine then went into overdrive.
Even the show's biggest fan (and I am one of them) would have to admit that the show has run its course. After 8 years it is now stale and has nothing new to offer. Every year I get excited at the beginning of the series, but it turns to inevitable diappointment as my favourites go too early/walk out/wrong candidates are saved/editing is used to manipulate voting. Same guests, same songs, same casting methods and becoming more reality-tv-manipulative with each year.
It was a great idea - still the best reality-talent idea ever, in my opinion - but I think its time is up. Inevitably I'll miss it when it finally goes, but it'll be interesting to see what TF1 replaces it with. I just hope it's something with a musical theme, rather than yet another "Secret Story"-type show.
Timo Räisänen, Magnus Carlsson, Robert Wells, Erik Segerstedt, Nanne Grönvall, Hanna Hedlund and LaGaylia Frazier. A potential schlager-tastic treat in store!!
Sunday, November 02, 2008
Why was this week different? Well, Brucie was on very sharp form for starters (did he get a new scriptwriter?), and there wasn’t that undercurrent of tension present in recent weeks.
This week also saw the standard of dancing significantly improve, well most of it anyway - John Sergeant and Andrew Castle were still there - but most of the ‘dead wood’ has now been evicted from the competition.
The first 10 of this series was awarded to - no surprise here - Austin Healey. The little rugby man is so far ahead of everyone else in the contest that he is now unstoppable. Although I thought the same about Colin Jackson in a previous series, so anything is possible. His closest challenger, Tom Chambers, delivered a dramatic paso doble. I’m glad that his partner Camilla has really come into the spotlight this series. It will be good if either she or Erin (Austin’s partner) win this year.
There’s something bothering Brendan Cole this year, it’s as if his heart isn’t in it, but he’s still doing his best to turn Lisa Snowdon into a contender. Their tango this week was particularly good.
Arguably the most improved of the celebrities over recent weeks is previous bottom-two Jodie Kidd, who has blossomed gracefully in ballroom, however she will be tested again once she has to do the Latin again.
Someone who has been shown up in Latin is Cherie Lunghi, who has been overmarked and overrated since the beginning. Why is she being talked up by the judges so much? Is it just cause she’s ‘mature’? She hasn’t really done anything special IMHO.
Christine and Matthew were a little dull, as they seem to be every week: is it only Matthew’s fanbase that’s keeping them in?
Dance-Off: Despite John being bottom of the judges’ scoreboard, he has become the cult audience favourite of this series: search for John Sergeant’s paso doble on YouTube for evidence! There has been some controversy over recent weeks regarding possible racial voting bias by the public, which resulted in two black contestants, Heather Small and Don Warrington in the bottom two. Don went that week, but Heather survived and after all the media coverage, she managed to stay out of the bottom two last week. Heather is paired with one of the new dancers this year: the excellent American Brian Fortuna who is amazing in his Latin discipline.
This week when it was ‘as you were’ and the bottom two would be her and A.N. Other. That other person being GMTV’s Andrew Castle, who managed to keep up that programme’s incredible tradition of presenters with two left feet. Being paired with attention-seeking Ola Jordan didn’t help either: she was never a favourite with the public. Punching the air and shoulder-shimmying does not a great Latin dancer make, and his time was finally up. Heather meanwhile made some improvement in her cha-cha-cha to "American Boy", however her days are also numbered: who will be in the bottom two with her next week? Will it be time for the ‘shock eviction’ of one of the favourites perhaps?
A little while ago I contemplated abandoning "Coronation Street" around the time of Michelle’s swapped-babies storyline and the over-reliance on the Platts, but what a change over the last couple of months. Now it’s unmissable again, mostly thanks to the new super-villain Tony Gordon, who’s the best super-villain since Richard Hillman. Two weeks ago it was "Murder Week" which ended with the hit-and-run killing of Liam Connor during Tony’s stag night. Tony engineered his soon-to-be brother-in-law’s killing of course, and it will be interesting to see how long he gets away with it. This has been quickly followed by the Rosie Webster abduction storyline.
"Corry" wasn’t the only soap with a big dramatic storyline a couple of weeks ago: "Hollyoaks" ended its long-running storyline of Myra McQueen’s abandoned son Niall taking his revenge on the McQueen family. It ended in explosive fashion with Niall abducting his mother, sisters and brothers, taking them to an old church and blowing it up. Remarkably, everyone emerged with the regulation soap-scratches on their face but little other signs of injury. Apart from Tina, who (thankfully) perished. "Hollyoaks" has been in great form over the past year but I wonder if it may now go into a post-big-story slump, the way "Corry" did after the Richard Hillman story?
I’ve never been a fan of the quiz shows attached to the Saturday night lottery draw on BBC-1, but "Who Dares Wins" (BBC1, Saturdays) is an exception. I like Nick Knowles (many don’t) and this is a proper quiz show, not one of those tedious Poker Face/Golden Balls ‘what are they thinking’ strategy shows which have been all over the TV in recent years.
Griff Rhys Jones went down the Michael Palin route with "Greatest Cities Of The World" (ITV, Wednesdays), a three week travelogue in New York, London, and Paris. Sadly, as many of these shows are, it was a wasted opportunity and my patience was finally exhausted when he spent about 15 minutes of the Paris show in secret underground passageways.
Much more quality viewing is "Stephen Fry’s America" (BBC-1, Sundays) with the intelligent presenter making his way across the USA by London taxi. It’s not really telling us anything new either, but it’s beautifully filmed and is a nice way to pass an hour.
My most favourite show of the moment is an old one - "Gilmore Girls" (E-4, Saturday omnibus) which I got into after reading many positive comments about it on the internet. I started watching at season 4 and now I want to get the boxed sets from the early seasons. It’s just a simple, warm and funny show with amazingly sharp scriptwriting and good acting. At the heart of the show is the warm relationship between the girls - mother Lorelai and daughter Rory, who are not just mother and daughter but also best friends. I can definitely relate to this as it reminds me of my relationship with my own mother.
I totally missed season 2 of "Heroes" (BBC-2/BBC-3, Wednesdays) but the new season 3 continues to be very watchable and addictive, even though half the time I can’t really understand what’s going on. All those personality changes - Sylar trying to be a goodie?? - are a bit bizarre, but are central to the plot which is beginning to develop.
If the shark was circling around "Grey’s Anatomy" (Living, Thursdays) at times during season 3, it’s now swimming off in the opposite direction. I’m really enjoying this series: the scriptwriting is much better and the whole thing is just sparkling again. As long as they don’t go back down the Meredith-angst route it should be fine.
Saturday, November 01, 2008
"Never Gonna Be The Same" : http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=CbjBrcreglY
and a tribute to 1988, "The Second Summer Of Love": http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=HJxIblwPKJE
1. His stupid name;
2. His involvement in "Rudebox" :(
3. "Kiss Me", which I hated and still hate.
"Icing On The Cake" is still a fantastic pop song from the 1980s and that fact alone is worth celebrating tonight, at http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=NkI4u1CkBFs
It's Only You Part II - Salem Al Fakir: take one mega-talented Swedish musical genius, add a Volvo commercial and mix it up for (hopefully) international super-stardom at last. An amazing electro-pop reinvention of a lovely acoustic song from his debut album.
Sex On Fire - Kings of Leon: OK it's been around for a long time, but I am still loving this. When this song comes on the radio when I'm at work, I start headbanging, which is the cause of some minor amusement to some of my younger colleagues. :)
Breathing Your Love - Darin: Soooo good to have him back again. This is growing on me more and more.
Love Child - Fibes! Oh Fibes!: still available at their Myspace (www.myspace.com/fibesohfibes) this is a rather cracking little song. Expect some new material soon: I'll keep checking out their Myspace for info.
The Boy Does Nothing - Alesha Dixon: Impossible not to sit still when this is on. Yet another example of Xenomania's 'six-songs-in-one' pop formula, which is always a winner for me. It does have that love-hate quality though....I'm in the love camp, for now.
Womanizer - Britney Spears: possibly the first and last time I'll ever feature a Britney song on here, as I've never been a fan, but this is terribly addictive and I'm having real trouble getting that song out of my brain.
Keeps Gettin' Better - Christina Aguilera: again I've never really been a fan of her either, but I like the electro-vibe of this song and it is really growing on me.
Disco Inferno/My World/Help Me - Bryn Christopher: since he was so fantastic on the Electric Proms last week, I can't stop playing these. A truly underrated British soul talent.
Last Goodbye - Avenue: OK so this may have flopped in the chart but there is always room in my heart for one more boyband pop song, and this is it.
Take Back The City - Snow Patrol: major shock at EuropeCrazy HQ, as the ambassadors of dreary-pop actually make a record which I like a lot.
Crying Blood - VV Brown: my mum tipped me off about this one as she'd seen the totally bonkers VV on "Later With Jools Holland" whilst I was away in Nice. Catchy tune, interesting haircut, and a fun, welcome antidote to all those Duffys and Adeles....
What Is Love - Haddaway: there is no reason for this being in my playlist this week, apart from the fact I'm always partial to a bit of 90s Euro-dance, and also when I hear this I just think of Bjorn Gustafsson dancing to it at Melodifestivalen and that just brings a big smile to my face, and you can't ask any more than that.