Thursday, 22 December 2011

Ro Man Ia An Island (No Man Is An Island)

Except the Isle Of Man that is!!!1! (You can use that one yourself.)

But this is no joking matter. This is the Romanian Top 100.

First things first: it's Christmas, and that means it's time to remember that confusing period where Nelly Furtado accidentally became one of the world's biggest popstars. One of the songs she warbled during that year or so was 'All Good Things (Come To An End)', both a stunning example of (utterly needless parenthesisation) and rather apt in regards to the success of her career. Anyway, while the invoking of it here might seem more than a little incongruous, it's actually really ironic or something because not only is this the last Romania thing of the year, it might also be the last ever. All bad things (come to an end) too, you see.

Well, providing you've had time to wipe the tears from your eyes after that shocking news, the chart stuff can begin (and don't forget, there's always a chance of a comeback, just look at Girls Aloud and their 'year off'.)

Because there was no post last week, here is the Top 10... From last week.

10 (12) Raluka - 'Out Of Your Business' WHAT A TUNE
9 (7) 'Smiley' - 'Dream Girl'
8 (8) 'DJ Antoine' - 'Welcome To St. Tropez' feat Kalenna GOOD GRIEF
7 (6) Liviu Hodor - 'Sweet Love' feat Mona MONAMAZING
6 (3) Guess Who - 'Tot Mai Sus' feat Marius Moga MOGAMAZING
5 (5) Pitbull - 'Rain Over Me' feat Marc Anthony SEVENTEEN OUT OF TEN
4 (9) Rihanna - 'We Found Love' feat Calvin Harris (YELLOW) DIAMOND
3 (4) Adele - 'Someone Like You' EXCITING NEW TALENT
2 (2) Sean Paul - 'Got 2 Luv U' feat Alexis Jordan NOTHING SPECIAL
1 (1) Lykke Li - 'I Follow Rivers' (The Magician Remix) THIS IS GOOD

And that made it five weeks at Number One for Lykke. Not so 'indie' now, eh?

This is the bit where an assortment of songs from between 100 and 11 normally are, accompanied by some comments on them. Just not this week. Sorry. Although there is a new Inna one called 'Endless'. It's a ballad and it sounds like it samples Nik Kershaw's gibberish classic 'The Riddle'. It doesn't.

And then this week's Top 10:

10 (>10) David Guetta - 'Without You' feat Usher GUETTA: NOT ALL BAD
9 (9) 'Smiley' - 'Dream Girl'
8 (5) Pitbull - 'Rain Over Me' feat Marc Anthony EIGHTEEN OUT OF TEN
7 (>10) Deepcentral - 'Speed Of SoundABOVE AVERAGE-ISH
6 (8) 'DJ Antoine' - 'Welcome To St. Tropez' feat Kalenna GO AWAY
5 (7) Liviu Hodor - 'Sweet Love' feat Mona WOULD SELL IN THE UK
4 (2) Sean Paul - 'Got 2 Luv U' feat Alexis Jordan SPELNG BAD, SONG OK
3 (
4) Rihanna - 'We Found Love' feat Calvin Harris GREAT
2 (3) Adele - 'Someone Like You' WE GET THE IDEA
1 (1) Lykke Li - 'I Follow Rivers' (The Magician Remix) STILL GOOD

Which makes it six whole weeks at the top of the Romanian Top 100 for Lykke Li, officially upgrading 'I Follow Rivers' from 'smash hit' to 'phenomenon' status. Congratulations Ms Li. Even the Romanian X Factor contestants are 'paying tribute' to it. And now here is the bit that goes... Except...
  • Liviu Hodor appears to be getting a single release in the UK sometime next year. Unfortunately it won't be for 'Sweet Love' but rather an older track, 'Happy For You'. In any case, 'watch this space' or something.
  • Alexandra Stan didn't get the Grammy nomination people were predicting for her :(
  • And "perspiring football journo" Duncan Jenkins has been giving his views on music.

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

"Working On New Material"

A Google search for the specific phrase "working on new material" pulls up 716,000 results. Non-scientific research suggests that about 97% of those results reference the careers of decidedly ropey popstars. 'This year I've just been working on new material', 'I've been busy working on new material', 'Et cetera'. In case you hadn't noticed, artists as diverse as Lloyd Daniels, Danyl Johnson and Michael Collings (?) have all been doing it in 2011 - in fact Lloyd and Danyl have been doing it since 2009. Some of this 'material' does come to fruition (who can forget Lloyd's 'Suburbian Girl', which took the bold step of inventing a brand new word to make the title lyric scan); most of it stays 'on the shelf' (in the respective artist's imagination).

Another act who's been beavering away at 'new material' for... A good 7 years now is former S Club Junior Calvin Goldspink.


That is what he looked like in 2004. However, he was only 15 at the time so AVERT YOUR GAZE. (Unless you're of a similar age, in which case carry on.) Anyway, he's 22 now so presumably he's ready to come back as the finely tuned male popstar that the UK has been lacking for quite some while. He's already got an amazing popstar name, should be good looking and should be able to use his S Clubness as a platform to attract the attention of both the public and some of the best people 'in the game'. Right?


No, not really. Well done all involved.

...But we can't let someone who ('presumably'...) made so many young people realise that they were gay let that be their only legacy.

WHAT SHOULD BE DONE: According to Wikipedia Calvin is currently signed to Polydor. Sounds like nonsense, but on the off chance that he is, this is what they should do with him:
  1. Get him to cover Leon Jean-Marie's 'Bring It On' or Neosupervital's 'Now That I've Found It' - no one will realise they're not originals
  2. Throw a load of cash at it
  3. Etc
And there we have it.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

(Agg)Romania(Santos.com)

Just so you know, the above title is an altered lyric from the concurrently ridiculous and amazing 'Candy' by Aggro Santos. If you want to catch Aggro live then you soon can, at Chichester Crown Court on January the 5th, supported by... Well, his lawyers, presumably. Anyway, Romanian chart et cetera et cetera.

Tinie Tempah is at Number 87 with 'Written In The Stars'. A bit of a tune, but not his finest. No, that would be 'Pass Out', which he performed on US X Factor last week, keeping in the 'Scunthorpe' line. That, ladies and gentlemen, is why Tinie Tempah is one hundred percent a Good Thing. Oh and in case you were wondering, Scunthorpe is rubbish, even by dilapidated northern UK town standards.

There's a new entry at Number 79 for DJ Sava and Andreea D and it is called 'Free'. "Free like the morning sun," is Andreea, "and I'm going, free at last" and you get the idea. Anyway, despite the fact that the morning sun isn't really free - it just goes up from the east down to the west, every single day, without fail - it's quite good. It's got brass in it and apparently Sava has something to do with Raluka of 'Out Of Your Business' brilliance and if that isn't a a mark of a class product then Lord knows what is.

Like dreadful Italian style rock? Well you're wrong to do so, but there was some at Number 55, although you'll have to find out what it was called for yourself because the woman on the radio didn't say what it was. Mohombi's 'Bumpy Ride' was just ahead of it at Number 54 though, so that somewhat balanced things out. And then that Bruno Mars song about rain came on (for it is at Number 50). "I'll never be your mother's favourite" is genuinely one of the lyrics in that. Better get yourself back to the shop quick to replace his album for the Bublé one then, because otherwise yours will be distinctly underwhelmed by her Christmas present. "That Bruno Mars," she'll sigh, barely masking her utter disdain for you and the lack of thought you have given to the purchasing of her gift, "he'll never be my favourite". Perhaps if he started making stereotypical 'housewife-friendly' pop then he might sell more copies. Until then, he'll have to remain something of a niche proposition.

When you are recording a song and you have Arash what do you do? What you do, it would seem, is make 'Broken Angel', a very nice sort of OneRepublic-ish midtempo ballad with added European influences. This is, of course, providing that you are a female vocalist called Helena and that when you're talking about Arash you mean you're with the balding Swedish-Iranian popstar who took Azerbaijan to a third place finish at Eurovision in 2009. If not then you probably want to get that checked out. Apparently 'Broken Angel' came out over a year ago so God knows why it's still in the Romanian Top 50 (at 46, to be precise) but as the old saying goes, "when God gives you lemonade, you drink the lemonade".

MILLI-MILLION, MILLI-MILLION, MILLI-MILLI-MILLI-MILLI-MILLI-MILLION, Alexandra Stan is one place ahead of that at Number 45 (the song is called 'One Million').

No sign of LadBanter yet, but their single isn't out until January so give them time.

One 'curiosity' of the Romanian charts is that at the moment at least they seem to contain about 5 songs that are based on 'Yé ké yé ké'. How this has come to be is unclear. The Romanians clearly love Latin influences in their pop music, though seemingly not so much African ones. So what is it that's so attractive about this one Guinean song from almost 25 years ago? It was popular across Europe then too, so it's not exactly a new thing, but it's nonetheless odd. On second thoughts they do also love wordless and nonsensical hooks - viz 'One Million' and the rather splendid 'Lala Song' by Grasu XXL and Guess Who, at Number 19 this week. Perhaps it could be something to do with that. Perhaps it could, and should, remain a mystery. PERHAPS.

And there we have it. Below you will find this week's Top 10. You may notice that many of the songs in it appear to have been there since the dawn of time. Then again you're not the one who's been compiling this bloody thing so you probably won't. Anyway:

10 (9) Lucky Man Project - 'Pumpin'' NO THANKS
9 (13) Rihanna - 'We Found Love' feat Calvin Harris HOPELESS ACE
8 (5) 'DJ Antoine' - 'Welcome To St. Tropez' feat Kalenna BLOODY HELL
7 (8) 'Smiley' - 'Dream Girl'
6 (7) Liviu Hodor - 'Sweet Love' feat Mona ACTUALLY GOOD
5 (3) Pitbull - 'Rain Over Me' feat Marc Anthony SIXTEEN OUT OF TEN
4 (6) Adele - 'Someone Like You' PLEASANT/TIRESOME
3 (4) Guess Who - 'Tot Mai Sus' feat Marius Moga ACTUALLY SUPERB
2 (2) Sean Paul - 'Got 2 Luv U' feat Alexis Jordan ACTUALLY... AVERAGE
1 (1) Lykke Li - 'I Follow Rivers' (The Magician Remix) MAGIC

And that is Lykke Li's fourth week at the top. Lykke: even though you may eventually be deposed, never forget that, as the late, great Whitney Houston once said, "you're a winner for a lifetime". Never forget that. And here's the bit that goes... Except...
  • Meanwhile, Grasu XXL did a PA at a club. Romanian popstars seem to do that quite a lot. And judging by the picture on that page, Grasu XXL is very tall.
  • Oh, and a clip of Cilla Black showing off her favourite childhood 'treat'.

Monday, 5 December 2011

Meet Your New Least Favourite Boyband

Oh God.

LadBanter have arrived with their debut single 'WKD Game'

"Gotta be honest, LadBanter are #decent" - Frankie Cocozza

Watch out ladies, LadBanter are on the prowl.

Danny, Chris, Tez and Kez represent a great leap forward for the boyband concept. Gone are the days of earnestness and stools, these guys are all about #cheekiness, #jokes and #banter - hence the name.

Taking their cues from the likes of Olly Murs, Example and the cast of Geordie Shore, LadBanter want to assure the world that "it's not all about the music". As Chris explains, "for us it's chinos first, tunes later". And it's that kind of attitude that has already earnt them a legion of followers on both Twitter and YouTube, on which they regularly post videos of the assorted japes they get up to at Banter Mansion - recent clips have included a hilarious incident in which Danny had a dump in the freezer before serving up a delicious 'chocolate log' to Tez! "Some of the fans are a bit young," admits Danny, "but as my mate Wazza used to say: 'if there's grass on the pitch...'"

Several high profile music industry figures are already tipping LadBanter for the top - before they've even heard any of the music - including Max from The Wanted, who said that they have the look of "complete swag merchants". Also offering praise was Joe Mott, who reckons that "the clue's in the name really - these guys are going to be big".

Meet the band:
Danny, 21, was working as a bricklayer in Leeds when he was spotted in a club by one of the top talent scouts behind the group. As he explains: "I was just having some top banter with my mates about this bird we saw earlier on when this guy came over to me. I thought, look, I'm not homerphobic or anything mate but I'm not interested. Then he started going on about being in a band or something. To be honest with you I've got no interest in music whatsoever, but three months later I'm ready to release my first single! Quality."

Chris, at 18, is the baby of the band, and was until recently in the first year of a sports science degree at the University of Chester. "At first I wasn't sure about being in a boyband - I like more meaningful stuff, like Ed Sheeran - but as soon as I met the rest of the boys we got on like a hows on fire."

25 year old Tez, real name Terry, first came to the attention of the LadBanter family in a Topman in Croydon - though he assures he's much more of a #toplad himself! Tez says that he is currently "well into dubstep".

Kez, real name Kenneth, was contacted after leaving a particularly incisive comment on the YouTube page of Cher Lloyd. "I put 'LOL slag' and it got 33 thumbs up. Next thing I know I'm in LadBanter!"

LadBanter's first single, 'WKD Game', features a sample from some song from the olden days and will be released on January 9th, with an album, '#decent', to follow in March. To catch up on the latest goings on in the joke-packed world of LadBanter, visit their YouTube and Twitter pages.

For further info please contact (sniiiip!)

Sunday, 4 December 2011

What Happened In 2012?

"2012," mused noted philosopher Jay Sean, "it ain't the end of the world". He wasn't wrong. I know because I've been to the end of it. (The year that is, not the world.) Not much has changed but they live underwater. Actually that means quite a lot has changed. Quite a lot indeed...

Excitement built in January as the BBC Sound Of 2012 was due to be announced. Only joking, everyone knew that all the acts on the shortlist were doomed to fail anyway, with or without the poisoned chalice of the title itself. Nonetheless, a lack of rock acts on the list prompted countless 'Is Rock Dead?' 'thinkpieces', and several counterclaims that "No, it's nozzzzzz". Oh and Neil McCormick mumbled something about Bono.

February was when Adele cleared up at the BRITs. It was nice for her for a while, but it wasn't too long until she came face to face with the spectre of Dido: the crushing realisation that it'd most likely be all downhill from here.

In March, Matt Cardle was dropped by Syco. Tragically, only seven people noticed. One was the successor to his X Factor crown, Marcus Collins, who quickly scrapped plans for a double disc chillwave concept album based on his time as a hairdresser and instead rush-released a collection of classic soul covers in time for Mother's Day. It was a smash hit.

In April, Marcus Collins was dropped. Elsewhere, the Steps comeback tour was, by all accounts, a triumph, and triggered something of a domino effect. By Christmas Scooch, allSTARS*, Marvin and Tamara, and Leilani had all had their own reunion series on Sky Living, even in spite of the latter being only one person. The new Steps album surprised many by being Actually Quite Good and the first single from it, a cover of Abba's unreleased 'Just Like That', was Number One for five weeks. Blimey.

After April came May, and this year's Eurovision was hailed as one of the best ever. The UK entrants, Hurts, took home the spoils. Look, no-one said this was going to be realistic.

June was the highlight of a packed year for Xenomania. Along with releasing the new Girls Aloud single and celebrating Alex Gardner's second Number One of the year the team opened the first Xenomania theme park, just outside their Westerham bunker. Rides included the mysterious Nadine's Passport, the Westminster-themed Swinging London Town, and the Malakouti. Although there was minor controversy over Brian Higgins' treatment of his employees (to be honest Vagabond should just have been happy he was keeping them in work) it was a riproaring success, with another three opening before the end of the year.

Wtih July came the Olympics, and all naysayers made an about turn as early as the opening ceremony, with its '50 Years of Pop' segment featuring performances from Half Of The Beatles, David Bowie (his first in God knows how long), Pet Shop Boys, Pulp, Girls Aloud and Adele. It'd be churlish to reveal too much about the goings on, but let's get one thing clear - it was amazing. Then some sport happened, and that was jolly good too.

The biggest news in August was that of a male popstar coming out, much to the delight of a number of frothing internet gays, who still had absolutely no chance of ever doing that to him, never mind *that*.

September signalled the launch of a new boyband - LadBanter. None of the members could sing, or had any interest in music, but all agreed that being in a band was "a great way of pulling birds". Their first single, the Chris Isaak-sampling 'WKD Game', was the fastest selling Number One of the year; thousands of teenage girls went wild and Mary Wollstonecraft died all over again.

In October Matt Cardle quite literally cleared up at the MOBOs.

Then, in November, David Guetta visited a club for the first time and decided that he didn't actually like it all that much really.

Finally, December saw a twist on a seemingly age old tradition: the ridiculous Facebook Christmas Number One 'cause célèbre'. With The X Factor winner scheduled to record a new track described as "Kylie's 'The One' mixed with her 'I Believe In You' and Girls Aloud's 'Call The Shots'", completely ridiculous Real Music proponents took a break from their Stereophonics CDs to actually listen to the songs in question, and decided that yes, they are all incredibly amazing. On further inspection they discovered that The Sound of Arrows' 'Into The Clouds' was even MORE amazing, and set about trying to get that to Number One instead. The only bad news is that neither they nor 'The X' succeeded; the Official Charts Company's magic supercomputer buckling under the brilliance of the two songs, and blowing up before the chart could be announced. In a way, everyone was a winner.

And that was about it.

Friday, 2 December 2011

Perfunctoromania

Because we're all busy people and etc. For the sake of completism, here is this week's Romanian Top 10

10 (11) Dan Balan - 'Freedom' A BIT LIKE 'POPULAR' IE AMAZING
9 (5) Lucky Man Project - 'Pumpin'' UNINTERESTING
8 (6) 'Smiley' - 'Dream Girl'
7 (4) Liviu Hodor - 'Sweet Love' feat Mona A GOOD SONG
6 (10) Adele - 'Someone Like You' A NICE SONG
5 (8) 'DJ Antoine' - 'Welcome To St. Tropez' feat Kalenna OH DEAR
4 (7) Guess Who - 'Tot Mai Sus' feat Marius Moga SUPERLATIVE
3 (3) Pitbull - 'Rain Over Me' feat Marc Anthony FIFTEEN OUT OF TEN
2 (2) Sean Paul - 'Got 2 Luv U' feat Alexis Jordan NO 'HAPPINESS'
1 (1) Lykke Li - 'I Follow Rivers' (The Magician Remix) HURRAH

Normal service will (presumably) resume next week, if you're in any way interested whatsoever. And, 'sadly', that's all. Except...
  • Marius Moga is currently one of the judges on Vocea României (The Voice of Romania). So that's nice.
  • Meanwhile, his great mate Guess Who had a guest slot on Romanian X Factor the other week. More interesting though was the appearance this week of East 17, who performed their 1995 'classic' 'Thunder'. Blimey.
  • And this is a rather innovative and funny way of using Spotify's Social feature, is it not? Yes, yes it is.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

X (Factor) Marks The Spot: Romania

As it stands, a total of 30 countries are either currently or will soon be broadcasting their own versions of that great British televisual institution, The X Factor. This probably means, given that different editions go out on different days of the week, that it is showing somewhere in the world every single night of the year (subs please check). That's quite a lot of X Factor.

It means a lot of PRS cheques coming through for Simon Cowell, who has a co-credit on the theme tune for suggesting that the words 'X Factor' should be in it. It means a lot of 'potential global superstars'. It means maybe one or two actual ones. More importantly it means a lot of Louis Walsh impersonators, badly mimed group performances and whatever else normally happens on the show. But who are the people that are doing these things and where? That is the question that X (Factor) Marks The Spot will strive, nation by nation, to answer.

Now this promises, given the fact that it's too much effort to watch more than about ten minutes of each show, to be rather ropey. So where better to start than everyone's favourite generically attractive female-fronted generic dance music factory, Romania. X Factor Romania is currently heading towards the end of its first series, with only seven contestants remaining. Here are some things about it, in lazy list format, in lieu of any of the skill required to craft flowing paragraphs.

The presenters: Razvan Simion and Dani Otil, who look like they could be the Romanian Ant and Dec, but are actually rather dour. Poor form, Romania. Oh and one of them seems to say the word 'weekend' at the start, possibly in mimicry of Dermot O'Leary and his "your weekend starts here" 'catchphrase'. Again, poor form if so.

The judges: Adrian Sînă (a member of amazing boyband Akcent, who have a song about Kylie Minogue), Paula Seling (who came third at Eurovision in 2010 with some other bloke, performing 'Playing With Fire') and Mihai Morar (no idea who he is). 

The voiceover: Subtly frightening.

The crowd: Falteringly polite, in that they seemed to be constantly anxiously waiting for a cue to gently clap from a man with a card. Or perhaps a gun, which they occasionally jumped, only adding to what was a quite amateur ambience. Can you have an amateur ambience? Well it's alliterative so you can now.

A comedy audition?: Cristian Vartolomei

This week's guest performers: Brilliantly, East 17, currently making what must be approaching their 17th comeback, albeit this time without the input of Brian Harvey and one of the other ones. So what song did they do? A new one? A classic? 'Stay Another Day'? No. 'Thunder', a song that suggests that Tony Mortimer's (the one who wasn't Brian Harvey [the one who ran over himself]) fabled songwriting talents were somewhat overstated. Basically it only had about two lines. The performance itself was ramshackle to say the least - more than a bit pitchy and strained. Let's just say it's been a long time. Halfway through, one of the judges picks up one of those tablet things - on which he is presumably watching the performance, despite it being in front of his eyes - adorned with the logo of one of the show's sponsors, and holds it right at the camera. Incredible.

This week's bottom two: This is known in Romania as 'DUEL'. First up was a woman dressed as Slash, belting her way through Lykke Li's 'I Follow Rivers', something that Janet Devlin could only have dreamed of doing on the UK version. (To be fair, 'I Follow Rivers' is currently Number One in Romania, but still.) Anyway, she wasn't very good.

Second was Irina Florea, who chose to perform 'I Love Rock 'N' Roll', a great song for showing off the more sophisticated aspects of your vocal abilities. Again, she wasn't very good, if a bit better than Slash. And she did quite a few ad libs, which would be best described as 'interesting'.

In all fairness, it should have been East 17 who were then kicked off. Sadly it turned out that they were not actually part of the competition. Instead it was Slash, by two votes to one, the decider coming from her own mentor, Mihai. She took it gracefully, as Irina broke down in tears, and the crowd waited for permission to clap politely. Everyone's a winner. Kind of.

Who might win?: Thanks for asking, no idea. There's only seven left though, so this man seen ambling his way through 'Rolling In The Deep' at judge's houses (a beach, in this instance) has, strictly speaking, a one in seven chance. Congratulations, Andrei Leonte. (Actually on second looking the favourite seems to be Alin Vaduva. So now you know.)

The overall feel: UK X Factor, circa 2006 (sans Leona).

"And there," as they say, "we have it".