Thursday, 23 February 2006

Smack My Brits Up

Like a geography teacher dancing at a sixth form disco, there's nothing as amusing as someone terminally uncool trying their damnedest to be hip. Here in the UK, we have a national institution dedicated to such an endeavour. It's called the Brit Awards, organised by the BPI. The mere handful of people over the age of 12 who do sit up and value this ceremony of giving meaningless tokens to meaningless acts confirm that Darwin's theory remains unproven.

In any case, I should be getting a bit of flak, because it's been over a week since the Brit Awards occurred. A whole seven days! That's the average career-span of a typical boy band these days. Sorry for being late with this one.

Every year, the record market shrinks ever more, thanks to people within the BPI insisting on daft chart regulation. We used to get four tracks on a CD single, but in the late 90s, the industry kow-towed to demands by manufactured pop acts into setting the maximum amount of tracks to three. And these pillocks wonder why they're not selling records any more.

Let's focus on one BPI member - former WEA chief John Reid, who once signed someone to a 500,000 five-album deal, stating "he is very talented singer and fans will buy his records because of that".

That 'singer' was Craig Phillips, a member of the public who won a reality show. He did have a single out, it flopped. Not really surprising, as Craig admitted to the press "I've never sung in the bath, let alone a recording studio".

Still, in 2002, the BPI saw fit to elect Mr Reid to their council. So now have a little insight into who actually votes for these Brit Awards. I'm not sure what substance was in the coffee that night at the BPI's AGM, but perhaps the management were having a laugh in deciding to have this failure of a man on board. He could be there for comic relief, alongside that Decca official who famously said "four-piece guitar bands are out, Mr Epstein".

You only need to see the headless-chicken-like panic at the way the recording industries are worried about MP3s. These emporers lauded it about with their new clothes for ages, and the public took the right stance by telling them where to stick their overpriced CDs. As this battle raged on, I recall one Sony executive in a newspaper making a statement as to why record labels were necessary. "We have invested in talent," said this exec, "such as Big Brothas". If you're saying "who?", don't worry. Like the failure of Craig Phillips to be the next, well, anything, the phrase 'Big Brother' does not tie in with music.

Lest we forget, let's take a look at some of the past winners of Brit Awards. These are all genuine, and more's the pity...

1987
British Group: Five Star
Around this time, the band were on a phone-in on children's Saturday morning show Going Live, where one child caller asked the band "Why are you so fucking crap?". Clearly a rhetorical question.

1988
British Single: Rick Astley "Never Gonna Give You Up"
"Can't sing, can't play, can't dance... you'll go far!" went the pseudo-witty Kit-Kit TV commercial of the time. What they should have said was "can't sing, can't play, can't dance, you're Rick Astley, that dignity-divorced arse-monkey".

British Producer: Stock/Aitken/Waterman
"Oh, we hated them at the time, but now it's all so good" say so many 'post-ironic' pundits. No. No, no, no. They were shit then. They are shit now. They will always be shit. Apply this to the Take That reunion, the Spice Girls, Vanilla Ice, etc. Cheese has a sell-by date for a reason.

British Breakthrough Act: Wet Wet Wet
People will argue about musical tastes 'til the end of time, the fools, not realising that my taste remains the best on the planet. Whilst indie kids will moan at R&B/urban (oblivious to the excellent output from Outkast, Beyonce, Blackstreet, Aaliyah, etc), and chavs will sneer at rock/metal/punk (ignorant to the passionate rage of The Clash, Deftones, Dead Kennedys, Sex Pistols, etc), there is one musical genre that is total excrement through and through. That is LOVE SONGS. Crooners who sing about love - why? They aren't singing that because they are in love, they're doing it for the money. Look at the most prolific of them - Phil Collins and Chris De Burgh. Both cheated on their wives. Proof that romantic music has about as much sincerity as day-old plastic bucket of petrol garage forecourt flowers. I'm supposed to be focussing on Wet Wet Wet here, and I am unaware of any polygamous goings on from their chief warbler Marti Pellow. But then, that's not surprising, it is Marti Pellow after all.

1989
British Male Solo Artist: Phil Collins
Around the time he had that hit 'Another Day In Paradise' that purported to be about the suffering of Britain's homeless. That juxtapositioned itself well with Phil's public adoration of the then Conservative government.

British Breakthrough Act: Bros
Picking on Bros would be like punching a baby. Well, twin babies at least. Clad in denim. With Grolsch bottle tops on their trainers. And singing "Oooh-yeah" in an attempting-to-be-macho-but-coming-out-really-camp voice that has only been topped by Will Young. Sod it, let's roll up the sleeves.

1991
International Breakthrough Act: MC Hammer
The 20th Century's answer to Nelly.

1993
British Breakthrough Act: Tasmin Archer
Known only for two things. 1) The chart hit 'Sleeping Satellite'. 2) Being a target of a surreal 'celebrity badger' running gag by Harry Hill. I have made that list in reverse order.

1995
International Breakthrough Act: Lisa Loeb
An old joke: "How do you confuse an idiot? Fish!". The gag achieves its aims to most people, I guess, but if you do have a fetish for seeing people confused, simply ask them the title of Lisa Loeb's second chart hit.

British Dance Act: M People
The post-rave fallout, the rise of house superclubs, the DJ culture, the Prodigy winning over rock-orientated festivals with a hybrid of critically acclaimed sound, The Chemical Brothers' first steps towards a decade of chart limelight, the seeds of Big Beat being sown, the explosion of Ibiza, yes, that was Britain's globally-important dance music scene in 1995. So let's give the award to a hotel cabaret act with a female singer who sounds like a man with his testicles in a vice.

British Breakthrough Act: Oasis
I'm not knocking Oasis here, I raise this point to highlight the ineptitude of the Brit awards - that typical policy they have of placing votes against bands already made very popular in the past 12 months. The surefire bet, all done at the expense of being a exponent of risk-taking cutting-edge talent. Arctic Monkeys won an award this year, great band, but you know the Brit committee just looked at their headlines rather than listen to their album. The Brits - voted for by Heat magazine. Probably.

1997
International Breakthrough Act: Robert Miles
A man who created a plinky-plonky piano house-lite annoyance, called it music, and got a hit with it. He then did this again, about two or three times with the notes slightly rearranged.

British Female Solo Artist: Gabrielle
It's 1997. I am Princess Diana, and Gabrielle is a Paris underpass pillar. Resultant metaphor: Gabrielle goes right through me.

1998
British Female Solo Artist: Shola Ama
Quirky fact! Peter Townshend and Roger Daltry really won this Best Female Solo Artist award. Well, it seemed like it to me, because I'm pretty damned certain that as this no-mark Shola Ama walked towards the stage, the audience were shouting "WHO!?".

1999
Freddie Mercury Award: Jubilee 2000
An award not seen since, er, 1999. And in case you're wondering, "Jubilee 2000" was a campaign to get big western nations to cancel the debt of third world nations. I saw Geldof taking notes. Meanwhile, it's 2006. Britain gets 1.1billion a year from poor nations that owe money to it.

British Female Solo Artist: Des'ree
"Life! Oh, life! Doo-do-doo!" screeched soul harpy Des'ree. Ironic really, hearing her using the word "life" so many times instigated a sucidal tendencies.

British Male Solo Artist: Rodney Williams
Where the emporer picked up his new clothes...

2000
Outstanding Contribution: Spice Girls
Do I even have to add a comment to this?

International Female: Macy Gray
Thankfully, ths one's fallen off the radar. Seems like the chart-buying public got tired of this professional Marge Simpson impersonator.

Pop Act: Five
Granted, pop music in the noughties is going to carry more excrement than a nursing-home duvet, and I suppose I shouldn't be picking on it that much. I'd try to say something nice about Britain's premier 'unconvincing-thug' boy band Five, but all I can come up with is that they are not Daphne and Celeste.

British Album: Travis "The Man Who"
Twelve years after winning their first Brit, too! A canny idea for Marti and the boys to rename their band to Travis, and continue putting out the same bland monotonous dirges. Record shops mistakenly placed this stuff in the "indie" section. Yes, what cutting edge stuff we have here. A song about a piece of wood, well done guys. And then using the word "turn" many many times in place of meaningful lyrics, and titling the resulting blandfest with that word. A feat they repeated in 2001 with "Sing". Let's not forget how this antithesis-to-all-that-is-Clash made their mark either, with their anthem that goes "Why does it always rain on me, is it because I lied when I was 17?", which completely ignores the issues of atmospheric fronts and the water cycle, much like the band have ignored the issues of soul, punk rock, energy-injected tunes and stabbing Embrace in their faces instead of emulating them.

2001
British Female Solo Artist: Sonique
Songs can be like buses. Take the justifiably-forgotten Sonique. She waited ages for a hit, got three at once. And just like buses, her hits didn't sound at all pleasant, were overpriced, and regularly took shortcuts to complete the stop quota at Willesden Green. Er, scrub that last one.

British Breakthrough Act: A1
Jesus weeping on a bicycle! They've applied the term "breakthrough" to a boy band that impersonate a third rate Take That tribute band, minus Rodney, Mark, Howard and Jason.

2002
British Female Solo Artist: Dido
This 'singer' has a relative in Faithless, the band that produced Insomnia. Dido herself takes a contrary role to that. Within a mere minute of hearing her dull-as-porridge ballads, Insomnia is completely cured.

2003
British Urban Act: Ms Dynamite
Ah, the anti-war celebrity who recently started a fight. It's no surprise that this person is billed as a cutting-edge passionate and talented singer, yet turns out not to be so. Dynamite blows.

2004
British Urban Act: Lemar
It is decreed by the British music industry that some runner-up of a reality TV show is better than the Streets. Given what I said above about one of the judges having been responsible for giving a Big Brother winner a 500,000 five-album deal, I was expecting Nadia's single to elevate him/her to Outstanding Contribution To Music status. That didn't happen, but I did get told that 'I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here' winner Kerry Katona once had a record deal for some reason or other, singing with two other reality TV show contestants.

2005
British Breakthrough Act: Keane
Did these Coldplay-wannabes ever turn up to pick up their award? It'd be pushing it gone 8pm, well past their bedtime.

BRITs25 - The Best Song Award: Rodney Williams - "Angels"
An award dedicated to the past 25 years of British music, with the obvious intent in avoiding the cliche of Bohemian Rhapsody or Imagine when it comes to asking the public what their favourite song is. And the British public need taking out with a crossbow, for choosing this overrated dirge as the best thing from two and a half decades of music! It was up against Joy Division's ':Love Will Tear Us Apart' and Kate Bush's 'Wuthering Heights'! Where's your taste, UK? This slushy ballad has as much genuine sentiment as an Asda 8p Valentine's card. One that's fallen from the shelf, too. With several footprints on it. Handed to your loved one in November. Christ, it's not even Rodney's best song! (Not that picking his best song would be a pleasant task - it's like having a beauty contest on a leper colony.)

British Single: Will Young "Your Game"
Will has fought hard for his success in the charts, scraping his way to the top by only having the support of a prime-time television series and a multi-millionaire record chief.

At the first awards, things were very interesting. The Beatles' Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band was awarded best British Album, and the Fab Four themselves (John, George, Ringo and the other one) won best British Group. Only one problem, this was the year 1977, a full decade after the album was released, and quite a while after the Beatles had split up. Fitting in with this glorious inconstistency was Queen winning best British single for their 1975 hit Bohemian Rhapsody.

The final item I must note from that very first awards ceremony, is that Richard Burton won something for best "non-musical record". I'm surprised they haven't brought this back for this year. James Blunt gets my vote for that.

Wednesday, 15 February 2006

Fags for the memory

"Typical nanny state", yelled one smoker yesterday. Actually, substitute 'wheezed' for 'yelled', because that was the state this guys' lungs were in. Not that I'm mocking the afflicted, oh no, I'm just mocking the chemically addicted.

Yes, by summer 2007, pubs and clubs in England and Wales won't allow smoking. Already, there are phlegms of disgust across the nation.

Normally, I'd be on the side of those ranting against the government's latest plan to tell people what to do. The argument at first sounds rational. Why shouldn't smokers continue as they are? Why is Tony taking away their right to enjoy a cigarette? They know it's unhealthy and they've made the choice to continue that habit, much like beer drinkers and people who nick chips off your plate. There's much muttering of 'civil liberties' and 'human rights', but hold on, I don't think the smokers can see the wood for the trees. Probably because there's too much haze emanating from their Silk Cut. I think it's time to address a few smokers' cliches.

"Wot about drinking and junk food? That's bad for you too, but you don't see the government cracking down on that."

When I make the choice to scoff down a mustard-laden hot dog, or quaff a Guinness, it's purely me who is consuming that, no-one else. My messy eating habits would have to escalate to the point where I look like an epileptic on Tiswas before anyone else gets my grub in their gob.

The same is not true of cigarette smoke. When there's a smoker next to me, I'm having a cigarette, whether I want to or not. The audacity of the complaining smokers in the newspapers this week makes me wonder if they'll start charging me for quaffing a portion of their John Cancer Specials.

"We pay proportionately more than non-smokers for the NHS through the cigaratte taxes"

Yes, indeed you do. And you'll be needing the NHS proportionately more than non-smokers too. Still, it's your choice to effectively burn a five pound note every day.

"It's for my nerves, I can't get through the day without one!"

I'm not sure how I've managed to survive three decades without following the 'advice' of this statement.

There are few things that get on my nerves. Rising bills, country invasions described as peace missions, James Blunt, piss-poor public transport, religious fundamentalists and rising council tax.

Not ever in my life, has the fact of not having a burning toxic stick laced with over 2,000 carcinogens, ever worried me.

Also, why is that smokers buy deodorant? What a pointless task and waste of resources. It's like buying football boots for Stephen Hawking.

"Look, we're going to die some day, I could get hit by a bus tomorrow."

And this is why Planet Earth will be better off without you. You've took the decision place a stick of dead leaves, wrapped up in paper, and plugged in with a mouse tampon, into your mouth, and to set fire to it. You utter schmuck. In your head, you're James Dean. In reality, you're Dot Cotton.

And one of your ultimate expectations of life is to be killed by the number 23 to Streatham Hill. Well, I won't be missing you, and neither will the bus driver.

Tuesday, 14 February 2006

I can avert the national terrorist threat.

The recent pictures of British soldiers abusing Iraqi prisoners have risen tensions in the Gulf, already a hotbed of unrest that has had its fires stoked in recent times by the crisis over the Danish newspaper cartoons.

As such, we are being warned to be on our guard against Islamic militants who are prepared to strike the UK as revenge for the West's invasion and exploitation of the Middle East.

I have a perfect solution that will appease the both the anger-fuelled Muslims and the open-minded westerner. We have to accept that the culture in the Gulf is one of 'an eye for an eye'. With that in mind, I have constructed this flawless proposal.

We, the British people, are saddened that some of our armed servicemen have abused their role. We offer compensation by handing over a highly prolific former soldier who has served in the British Army.

This man is James Blunt, who, for some reason, has shifted more albums than anyone else last year. Quite tragic really. I am willing for James Blunt to be handed over to anyone in the Middle East, even the most extreme anti-western groups (especially them), and they can do what they like with him. I recommend slow torture, preferably involving sulphuric acid and pliers.

"But Peter", I hear you cry, "this is irrational and you can't seriously propose that". You'd be right. We can't just jet that caterwauling fop off to the Gulf for an imminent (and welcome) death. More than one perpetrator was involved in the abuse scandal, and so, I nominate more of Blunt's ilk - like Daniel Powter, that bloke from Kubb, and all the other lamentable Tesco Value Chris Martins that the tone-deaf record industry are signing up even though the sound of a bedwetting school-bully-target warbling the word 'beautiful' every other second is something that has the shelf-life of milk.

Al-Jazeera can charge sky-high pay-per-view fees for Blunt's execution. I'd personally like to sign up to buy the DVD rights. On second thoughts, there'd be a queue so long that you'd need a full tank of petrol to reach the end of it.

Monday, 13 February 2006

A multi-millionaire makes a romantic gesture to me.

This morning, I saw a red envelope on the doormat, addressed to me. "Ah," thought I. "How nice, the missus has got me a Valentine's card already", at exactly the same time a burden of guilt dropped on me as I realised I've done precisely nothing in gearing up for this year's annual Reason For Florists To Get The Rounds In.

Thing is, the envelope's writing was not that of my girlfriend's. What could it be? Someone playing a cruel hoax to make it look like I'm cheating on her? Someone doing a wind-up on me? Or even possibly a real actual Valentine from someone who doesn't know I'm attached?

Well, there was a real proper Valentine's card inside. It was from a businessman called Rupert. Now, I'm not that way inclined, but this bloke I do know about, and he is loaded. Was this a strange Indecent Proposal? Hey, I could do with the money. I would sleep with a guy for a few million pounds, oh yes. (I'd have to make sure the money is on the table first, I'm not falling for that trick again.)

Sadly, he wasn't offering his wealth of riches to me, but a different service. That of his satellite television business. It was actually an advertising shot from Sky. I've led quite a riddle here, with "Rupert" being that famous antipodeon billionaire with a huge stake in BSkyB.

No point taking up such an offer of romance from Mr Murdoch even if it did exist, because with the above-inflation price increases I had to accept in Sky's contract last year, I feel that Rupert has already screwed me.

As for the envelope, that was printed in a handwriting-like font, and has probably gone out to the seven million other Sky susbcribers out there.

Rupert, you're such a slut...

Saturday, 11 February 2006

In the beginning, there was nothing.

Blogs, eh? 99% of the bloody things appear to be social dullards talking about what they're going to have for dessert, and how their pet dog is recovering from an illness.

Well, none of that here, at least I hope not. I lead an ultimately boring life, peppered with the odd bit of fame when I go out and do things in the meeja industry. So, basically, I sit at home and watch DVDs, surf the interweb, but just occasionally have to speak to a celeb or someone vaguely celeb-like in the course of my travels.

I pretty much despise all blogs. They clutter up the internet with tales of nothingness, and opinions that really don't matter at all. Which is why I won't post as frequently as the average blogger. People should be banned from posting data to the internet, unless it's interesting. And who would be the judge of that? Well, me of course.

Everybody's entitled to my opinion.