Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Grange Hill Can't Handle Me

Anyone remember the 1990s theme tune to UK high school based drama Grange Hill? The simple but memorable piano melody, composed by Peter Moss, was one of my favourite theme tunes of the era. Anyway, listening to Flo Rida's Club Can't Handle Me recently, I suddenly realised that the Grange Hill music would fit perfectly beneath Flo Rida's song. Kudos to remixer Doberman for coming up with a great remix of the original theme that laid a perfect soundbed for the mashup, seeing as the original was far too short. I had a bit of a play about with the two songs on Audacity and the concept seemed to work, but my mashup skills weren't quite up to scratch. So I sent the idea and a demo of my basic mix to friend and mashup king Hitstastic to work his magic and voila, see what you think of his final version 'Grange Hill Can't Handle Me' by LB9 vs. Hitstastic;

Club Can't Handle Me is a great song but really incredibly generic and way too similar to I Gotta Feeling in places, production wise. If this was the radio mix, I know I would have bought it on single! But maybe I'm biased as it was my idea! Here's to rap stars in the future sampling British TV theme tunes for real, next stop Eminem vs. Birds of a Feather!

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

A personal journey through music

I've been thinking recently about the ways in which I love and have loved music. It's ironic that I love it so much now as an adult, as I really didn't start appreciating music until 1998, when I was 11! Before that I liked a few odd songs, but never bought any music or went out of my way to listen to it. But now a lot of my favourites are 90s songs that I enjoyed at the time but have rediscovered in the noughties, having bought various compilations and learnt more about the history of the industry. The Corrs' sophomore album Talk On Corners changed my views on music albums wise, when I received it along with my first stereo in 1998, and Cher's seminal anthem Believe was the first single/song that I truly loved and became obsessed with, so all hail the vocoder!!! From circa October 1998 onwards I'd listen to the chart every week to hear the latest songs. I suppose my music phases can be briefly grouped as the following;

1987-1998 - I didn't really listen to/enjoy an awful lot of music aside for a few songs and never listened to any album until 1998. I was always extremely cultural aware though, for somebody who didn't actually listen to much music. I could tell you the full names of every Spice Girl, and probably even every member of Solid Harmoine! I read the magazines and stored all of the information but didn't listen to the music - it was a very strange relationship to the industry.

1999-2002 - From here on in I primarily listened to and loved chart dance, thanks to ATB's 9PM (Till I Come) and Alice Deejay's Better Off Alone at first, although I did like pop - very little from any other genres though. I first watched the Eurovision Song Contest in 1999 and recall liking Charlotte Nilsson, Selma, Evelin Samuel and Precious (which I bought on single on its release week, not realising that it was anything to do with ESC - obsessive in waiting!). The 2000 contest I only liked Alsou and Ines so basically wrote off my Eurovision love as a passing fad. But then 2001 had about 10 songs I loved and this was when the real obsession kicked in. My favourite song of all time also surfaced during this period - the Rob Searle trance remix of N-Trance's Set You Free. Defines perfection. If I could only listen to one song for the rest of my life, it would have to be this.

2003 - This was a big transition year for me, and my least favourite year of the 00's for many reasons (personal as well as musical - finishing school and doing exams, starting college, getting a job - I found it all very stressful). There was NO good dance about all year which devestated me, so I had to turn my attentions elsewhere. Delta Goodrem turned me fully on to pop music at this point. I loved Born To Try instantly but wasn't a real convert until I bought the Innocent Eyes album in the summer. From that point onwards I stopped being so all over the place with my tastes and pop was at the forefront now.

2004-2005 - I went through a piano singer/songwriter phase - Sarah McLachlan/Missy Higgins/Lucie Silvas etc... - all spawned from my love of Delta. I Still loved pure pop and dance started to seep back into my tastes too. I finally started to like male artists after six years of only caring for females, with very very few exceptions (Tanel Padar & Dave Benton, Eiffel 65, Wheatus, ATB - that's about it!). It was the summer domination of James Blunt and Daniel Powter (who I LOVED) which got me into males finally, bizarrely. I also finally loved a rap song for the first time - The Avenue by Roll Deep! And Kelly Clarkson and The Veronicas kick started a love affair with pop-rock too.

2006-2007 - This was when I really started to branch out with my musical tastes. I finally opened up to stuff from any and every genre, besides still loving pop and dance. Notably, after always hating it, Carrie Underwood turned me on to the occasional delights of country music! Males started to rule my tastes at various times, females at others. Two thoroughly good years for music across the spectrum - 2006 had Voodoo Child, Hips Don't Lie and Rock Steady, 2007 had With Every Hearbeat, Rule The World, Love Song and Believe Again all surface within mere weeks of each other (ok Robyn was slightly earlier!). I started going to gigs a lot during these years too, although I had been to a few in 2004-2005, but I was at uni in these two years and it was very much routine for me (and surely most students!?!) by now.

2008-present - nowadays I'm open to just about anything, and will give anything a chance. Inide, rock, dance (I enjoy all sub genres of it basically too), any type of pop, country, really coming around to love rap and R&B nowadays too. I just listen to a lot more variety, more foreign music, far less UK chart music than ever before. My tastes have certainly developed over the years - I love things now that I never would have loved when I was much more narrow minded and dance obsessed ten years ago. But my heart does remain with pop and dance primarily. And it will take somebody truly special indeed to ever penetrate my three favourite artists ever - Delta Goodrem, The Corrs and Shakira - nobody holds a light to these three for me. Other artists I've gone on and off but whenever I think I might be getting bored of one of these, they pull something truly sensational out of the bag (Believe Again, the entire Borrowed Heaven album, and She Wolf/Waka Waka respectively). I mustn't underestimate the contribution of the following so far unmentioned acts on my life in terms of my musical 'journey' though: Girls Aloud, Kylie Minogue, Take That, Lady GaGa, Colbie Caillat, KT Tunstall, Kelly Llorenna, Atomic Kitten, Christina Aguilera, Natasha Bedingfield, Mariah Carey and Vanessa Amorosi - all incredibly instrumental in shaping my tastes and indeed soundtracking my life so far.

Monday, 16 August 2010

Manics are back, and inspired by Steps!?!

Welsh rock band Manic Street Preachers are back, and after an album that didn't perform particularly well sales and chart-wise, they seem to be after a hit this time. The lead single from Postcards From A Young Man, is called (It's Not War) Just The End Of Love, and after loving their last commercial lead single in 2007 - Your Love Alone Is Not Enough, which featured Cardigans' singer Nina Persson, I was intrigued to see how they're intending to bag a hit in an era where rock music is performing terribly in the charts. In fact it has a practically non-existent presence these days save for the odd Facebook campaign boosted entry, like Rage Against The Machine. A far cry from five years ago when the likes of Arctic Monkeys, Kaiser Chiefs and Franz Ferdinand were powerful chart forces.

It would seem that the Manics answer to this, with their new single, is to jump back ten years in time and use an incredibly similar main hook to Steps' 2000 #1 hit Stomp!!! It may have been a UK #1 but everyone knows it was far from their best and got to the top by default on a low sales week. Why not borrow from classics such as One For Sorrow or It's The Way You Make Me Feel!?! It's a catchy song, and I actually do like it, but it's a very strange experience listening to it indeed. Can the Manics buck the trend to score a rare rock hit or is the genre too irrelevant chart-wise for this to make a mark at the moment? Time will tell...but for now, 'everybody clap your hands *clap clap* get on up and dance, we're gonna stomp all night now!';

Manic Street Preachers -
(It's Not War) Just The End Of Love

Steps - Stomp

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Radio 1 in not ignoring French language song shocker!!!

The inescapable Alors On Danse has been an absolutely huge smash hit across Europe this year, topping the charts in Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Netherlands, France, Germany, Italy, Slovakia and Switzerland and going top 3 in Sweden, Russia, Poland and Finland. Of course, with any other hit on this scale it would seem rather obvious that eventually, and always last, it would cross over to the UK market. However, I was always dubious about this prospect in the respect that foreign language hits in the UK are few and far between to say the least, the last French language top ten hit here being Moi Lolita by Alizee in 2002. Others have been promoted on TV to no avail - La Tortura by Shakira and Ella Elle L'a by Kate Ryan for example, but they've never properly caught on, mainly because radio refuse to play them.

So was Australian act Yolanda Be Cool's Italian language recent UK No.1 hit We No Speak Americano breaking through the dawn of a new era for non English language songs to cross over into the UK charts? Certainly the country's biggest radio station, BBC Radio 1, seem like they're finally going to start supporting them. No sooner than Yolanda Be Cool is taken off the playlist, Belgian singer Stromae's Euro smash is added!!! So if you're from the UK but have been living under a rock and managed to avoid Alors On Danse's huge internet presence this year, get ready for the onslaught because it's about to go big!!! If you're a European reader, you may laugh at how ridiculously long it takes 99% of Euro hits to reach these shores, if they ever do at all that is, knowing full well that you were dancing to Alors On Danse in March!!!

Hopefully this is going to be the start of something for UK radio's near blanket refusal to play anything in a language other than English. We've missed out on some great tracks here that are regarded as classics across the rest of Europe, so please, can the snobbery finally end now? Imagine if radio and TV in Germany enforced a policy of playing only German language music - the country would be up in arms about not being able to listen to new material from the likes of Lady GaGa, Robbie Williams, Katy Perry and Amy Winehouse!!! Similarly many of us in the UK are getting a little bit tired of missing out on all of the big foreign language hits that we all enjoy on our holidays on the continent, or hear through the internet. So here's to change, ALORS ON DANSE! da, da, da, da, da, da...

Sunday, 8 August 2010

A pop standard...but only in Norway!

British/Norwegian boyband A1 have always had a bit of a knack with a tune. Mark and Christian are great songwriters and Ben is a very strong vocalist. Since reforming, they've had a lot of success in Norway with Comic Relief single Take Me Home, Melodi Grand Prix runner up Don't Wanna Lose You Again (which so deserved to go to Eurovision over Didrik!) and new single In Love And I Hate It, which is the most 'classic' sounding A1 of all three of their singles. They've been performing at some of the summer shows over in Norway recently, and recently sang their aformentioned new single as well as Everytime at Allsang Grensen.

For anyone who may have forgotten, Everytime was a boyband ballad of epic proportions which has been sadly forgotten in the UK despite peaking at #3 upon its release in November 1999, their biggest hit to date at that point. Unfortunately it was probably rather overshadowed by the fact that it was released the same week as Robbie Williams' classic ballad She's The One, which of course went straight to #1. In Norway however, it was a slightly different story. Everytime peaked at #3 there as well, but spent 13 weeks inside the top ten and went down as something as a pop standard, as you can see by the huge reception for it in that video. Had they been performing it to a big UK crowd, I expect barely anybody would even recall the song's existence, let alone know every word.

This all tells a very interesting story about how different countries take to different songs, which also of course can dramatically change a setlist when acts go to perform in different territories. The centrepiece of a Kylie Minogue set in the UK might well be the likes of Better The Devil You Know and Spinning Around but in the US, she'll pay more attention to The Locomotion, her first big breakthrough hit there. Similarly, Sex On Fire has just joined the elite million sellers club for Kings Of Leon in the UK, but it barely dented the charts in their native America, where Use Somebody was by far their biggest hit.

It's always interesting to see how cultural differences and promotional decisions affect what do and don't go down as 'classic singles' from one country to the next. But one thing's for sure - Everytime is far too strong to be forgotten everywhere but Norway, so can somebody resurrect it by singing it in X Factor this year please? It would surely make a nice change from hearing O-Town's All Or Nothing for the 874th time!!!

Friday, 6 August 2010

Kelly Llorenna returns with a drastic musical overhaul!

It's fair to say this is one of the most unexpected direction changes I've ever seen. Kelly Llorenna, 'queen of clubs' and one of my favourite British singers of all time is now fronting a new pop/rock band called Freak Asylum. For those that don't know, Kelly's the singer behind THE GREATEST SONG OF ALL TIME ™ (Set You Free by N-Trance) and had solo hits with Tell It To My Heart, Heart Of Gold and This Time I Know It's For Real, and not forgetting the brilliant Flip & Fill collaboration True Love Never Dies! The new band are apparently influenced by 'Gwen Stefani, No Doubt, Pink, The Veronicas, Kelly Clarkson, The Prodigy, Marilyn Manson, H.I.M., John 5, Madonna, Adam Lambert, Muse, Pendulum, Pretty Reckless'. Freak Asylum are working on an album currently...and juding by the sound of That's What I Hate About You, I can't wait to hear it!!!

MySpace: http://www.myspace.com/freakasylum
Website: http://freakasylum.co.uk/