Posts Tagged ‘pop music’

Not surprisingly, five million people have seen the video already.

The video is surprisingly funny, charming, and, needless to say, sexy. The young ladies concerned are easy on the eye and you can hear the buzz of the vibrators in use under the track. And as a means to publicise their new single, I guess it’s a hugely successful exercise. And they’re from Holland, so … well, you know.

But maybe I am getting old. I was immediately given to wonder what the Mums and Dads would think?

There is a sea-change in the way we view sexuality and it is being driven, as always, by the young and the media they consume. It has become commonplace to the point where demure behaviour no longer has any currency, yet less any cachet.

You can’t be a celebrity (especially a female one) without your own accidentally released sex tape or raunchy photos “stolen” from your phone. There’s “sex in public” on our TV, (especially on excruciatingly embarrassing “reality TV shows”), some pop stars are now little more than soft-porn actresses, we now have a generalised acceptance of “sexting”, real sexual activity is increasingly replacing simulated sex in major motion pictures, and all the rest of it.

We freely confess to being in two minds.

On the one hand we warmly applaud women, particularly, claiming their sexuality and not being locked in a box marked “dirty, not to be known about, simply designed to seduce men, essentially wicked”. These attitudes have hardly changed since the days when we used to hang and burn witches, and it is wonderful that they are changing, just as it is wonderful that a bearded cross-dresser can win Eurovision. (Good song, too.)

On the other hand, we are confronted by the very public nature of a lot of today’s sexuality. One can embrace sexual freedom for all – genuinely, enthusiastically embrace it – without necessarily wanting to embrace having sexual activity “in your face” at every turn.

We think we miss the best bits of decorum. It’s something – we stumble into incoherence here, but we think you’ll get what we mean – something to do with manners. Something to do with a more polite, less up-front world, where things are left to the imagination – if for no other reason that using our imagination is good for us as a species. Sometimes, though we hate the cliche, less really is more.

We confidently expect our inbox to be filled with abuse.


Well apart from a few people confirming that, yes, we are old farts, most people have engaged in a civilised debate about ADAM’s video.

But what is really great – Lord, we love the world wide interweb thing – is that someone has already, and hilariously, spoofed it. Watch these three guys. Bravo.

Depending on your office, of course.

This is hilarious. Very, very funny. Totally politically incorrect. Do watch it, I urge you. We were crying by the end.


Meanwhile, we see that a petition – it calls for Bieber to be deported from the United States back to Canada – on the White House’s official petition site has now garnered more than 100,000 signatures, meaning that the Administration is legally required to take action and respond.

We await with bated breath the Canadian equivalent arguing they don’t want him back.


Meanwhile, Bieber has appeared been charged at a Toronto police station for allegedly assaulting a limo driver back in December.

A statement issued by police said the alleged incident occurred about 2.50am (local time) on December 30.

Police allege that:

“A limousine picked up a group of six people outside a nightclub …. (and) while driving the group to a hotel, an altercation occurred between one of the passengers and the driver of the limousine.

“In the course of the altercation, a man struck the limousine driver on the back of the head several times.

“The driver stopped the limousine, exited the vehicle and called police. The man who struck him left the scene before police arrived.”

2.50 am? Much too late for this lad to be up, surely? Anyway, apparently, Bieber is scheduled to appear in court on March 10.

Train. Wreck. Look away.

Lou Reed


Meanwhile, celebrate Lou Reed’s astonishing eclectic genius with this amazing version of Perfect Day – my all time favourite Lou Reed song amongst a bunch of brilliant works – put together with an astounding collection of musical talent by the BBC for a promotional item. This video has been by 1.7 million people so far. I bet there’ll be a few more hits now. Wonderful. Sheerly, unforgettably wonderful.

And as a bonus, 1981’s O Superman by Laurie Anderson, Lou’s widow, as originally shown at MOMA in New York. One can hardly imagine what a dinner party with these two talents together would have been like. Our sympathies for Laurie and a wish that time heals her sadness.


Annie Lennox on Miley: “as long as there’s booty to make money out of, it will be bought and sold”.


Annie Lennox, best known as the singer in Eurythmics and who now tours as a solo artist, posted a short missive to her Facebook page earlier today alluding to the debate regarding Miley Cyrus’s overtly sexualised performances.

The full statement is below:

“I have to say that I’m disturbed and dismayed by the recent spate of overtly sexualised performances and videos. You know the ones I’m talking about. It seems obvious that certain record companies are peddling highly styled pornography with musical accompaniment. As if the tidal wave of sexualised imagery wasn’t already bombarding impressionable young girls enough..I believe in freedom of speech and expression, but the market forces don’t give a toss about the notion of boundaries. As long as there’s booty to make money out of, it will be bought and sold. It’s depressing to see how these performers are so eager to push this new level of low.Their assumption seems to be that misogyny- utilised and displayed through oneself is totally fine, as long as you are the one creating it. As if it’s all justified by how many millions of dollars and YouTube hits you get from behaving like pimp and prostitute at the same time. It’s a glorified and monetized form of self harm.”

“A glorified and monetized form of self harm.” Yes, well that’s what we were trying to say the other day here, and again here, but nothing like as eruditely.

Interesting comment from a hugely successful and talented woman. Who was also “sex on stage”, by the way, but never, to my knowledge, got her tits out.

Sometimes simple was best - it let the music shine

Sometimes simple was best – it let the music shine

Last night, for reasons so obscure they do not need elucidation, one found oneself with free tix for self, Mrs Wellthisiswhatithink and Fruit Of One’s Loins at the Melbourne opening night of the latest run of Jersey Boys, the autobiographical re-telling of the rise and rise of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons from the mean streets of New Jersey to mega-stardom and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

First opening night I had ever been to. Always good to rack up a first when already ensconced in one’s middle years. I don’t suppose it’s likely to happen all that often, so the credit card treated us all to dinner on the pavement at an ancient bistro next to the theatre (the type where you have to ask the price of the bottle of wine then you shouldn’t be there) and it was really quite amusing watching minor celebs arrive and be interviewed on the red carpet and photographed in front of the banners for the show and all that fluffy nonsense. Wannabee starlets primped and preened and wandered around squeezed into dresses that resembled sequin-encrusted handkerchiefs rather than practical garments. Luckily it was a warm night.

The PR hacks and the journos and the publicists and the great and good of Melbourne society swirled around, all trying to work out who was looking at them without anyone noticing that it was them that was doing the looking, and in general, a good time seemed to be being had by all. The whole thing was about three millimetres deep in societal relevance, and all the more fun for that. The former conservative Treasurer of Australia, Peter Costello, sat behind and above us in the circle. What my Mum would have called “the cheap seats, for the genteel poor”. It was only continual nagging by the Memsahib that prevented me from pointing out to him that the socialists had the better seats.

This multi-award winning show, which has already done amazing business in the USA and around the world, just seems to roll on and on. Almost everyone I know had already seen it, and I had actually not bothered last time it was here – “Frankie Valli? Pfft!” – so I wasn’t overly geed up to finally make the show.

But what an error, Dear Reader! This was musical theatre at its most approachable, enjoyable, and even, on occasions, genuinely moving. All around the world right now I have friends and readers telling me how they are flocking to see the musical movie version of Les Miserables and coming away feeling sad and drawn. My advice? Forget “The Glums”, (it’s a thoroughly depressing book, it was a thoroughly depressing stage show, and now, apparently it is a thoroughly depressing movie), and hithe thee instead to the nearest production of Jersey Boys. Fly, if you have to. Because it’s a corker.

With a set that brilliantly combines the raw simplicity of steel, echoing the mills and hardships of the young lads’ backgrounds, with witty, eye catching video effects and massive TV panels (allowing the very clever tromp l’oeil effect of combining on-stage performance with genuine footage of the audiences watching the original Four Seasons performing on shows like American Bandstand), the overall effect is to encourage one to suspend disbelief entirely, and to feel one is back in the late 50s and 60s, witnessing the birth of a genuinely mass-movement popular music phenomenon, and the effect it had on both the participants and the society surrounding them.

Jeff Madden channels Frankie Valli so accurately all disbelief is suspended

The Melbourne production was previously singled out by critics as amongst the most impressive worldwide, and I am sure the same plaudits will rain on the heads of the current cast, choreographers, stage designers and musicians. At times, Canadian actor Jeff Madden channelled Frankie Valli himself with a passion and credibility (and the “voice of an angel” that made Valli so famous, with a natural falsetto that defied belief) that meant one had to pinch oneself to remember that the real Valli is now 78 and all this was a very long time ago. But all the cast were flawless. The sets were tight, the timing impeccable, the dialogue convincing, and above all, the music sublime. It was a perfect reminder, and in my case a reminder was needed, that these young people were responsible for some of the finest pop songs ever written and performed. Their talent and their popularity was certainly rivalling other mega groups like the Beatles at the time, or the later Abba, and they deserve to be recalled with affection and some awe. Especially the song-writing and producing skills of Bob Gaudio, charmingly brought to life by Decaln Egan.

What made the evening truly special were a few moments when the audience, swept away by the talent on display, both inherent in the music and in the performances of the young cast, hollered and whooped their full-throated appreciation.

As if taken somewhat by surprise, the cast allowed themselves a little self-regarding emotion, occasionally just taking a second to the thank the audience for their enthusiasm, throwing in the occasional bow, nods of thanks, and smiles, with sparkling eyes.

It was charming, unforced, and it seemed entirely appropriate.

It further blurred the line between history and today, between acting and reality, between New Jersey and everyone else, between the entertainers and entertained.

For a moment the bond between actors and audience really did feel like that curious and intimate mesh that binds pop idol and fan, that can make one feel bereft and bereaved at the death of a John Lennon or a Freddie Mercury, or in genuine awe of the athletic rawness of a Bruce Springsteen or Roger Daltry, or warmed by the sheer good naturedness of an Olivia Newton-John or Cat Stevens or fundamentally,and sometimes life-changingly, stirred by the righteous wrath of a Bob Dylan. In the music of these giants of the entertainment world we see glimpses of them, the real people behind the carefully-constructed images, and thus in turn of ourselves, expressed in new and meaningful ways.

Now and again, last night, we were privileged to feel what Frankie Valli and his friends gave their many fans. And it seriously rocked.

If you’ve forgotten, well, here you go. Do yaself a favour. Some of the video is a bit dodgy. The music sure as hell isn’t.

Melbourne’s Herald Sun loved the show too. As they did in Adelaide. And in Sydney, the Sunday Telegraph commented “Jersey Boys isn’t just a cut above most musicals;  it’s in a different league”. And the Syndey Morning Herald raved “This is easily the best musical ever – truly thrilling – the hits explode from the stage with verve, polish and conviction.”

You can also see exclusive footage of the Melbourne show with cast interviews on this blog.

Well there ya go, and now you know. Be there or be square, man.

I am working, dammit!

I am working, dammit!

So for some reason, I ended up on You Tube again this evening, following links with half an eye.

I really don’t end up there that often, whatever you may think from following the blog, but I did happen across a clutch of my favourite music all on one page so I thought I would share.

Be still my beating heart

It is hard to imagine a more beautiful lead singer than Susannah Hoffs. In a string of great songs with the Bangles – who could forget “Walk Like An Egyptian”? – a dance move I never captured then or now – she stole the hearts of a generation of males. Not to mention quite a few girl crushes going on, too, I shouldn’t wonder.

“Come on honey, let’s go make some noise.” Hoo-hah.

Oooh, lookie here

Then further down the page there was the immortal Robert Palmer’s Simply Irresistible.

Now this video clip is just so wrong on SO many levels. Love it. Love the editing. Love the song. Lover the performance. Love the girls and the choreography. Just a classic.

(I did used to know a young lady who looked exactly like one of the girls in the video. You know who you are. That could be why.)

Sadly, a heavy smoker, Palmer died in 2003 in Paris, France, at The Warwick Hotel, from a heart attack at the age of just 54. What a waste. Along with “Addicted to Love” he was responsible for two of the great pop-rock anthems ever recorded.

While we’re talking about catchy

Then again, was there ever a better hook in a song than in “Angel is a Centrefold”? And as for the dance routine, well, you may be sensing something of a theme developing.

Change of pace

So I had better change tack entirely; I was so pleased to come across this achingly beautiful song from Sinead O’Connor.

It’s easy to be a smart-arse about O’Connor. To say she’s led a controversial life – bedevilled, it is now revealed, by bi-polar disorder – is a bit like saying Everest is a high hill. But this is about as good as a ballad ever gets, written by the artist once known as and now known again as Prince of course, and she performs it brilliantly.

Genius was always inclined to the unusual. And this performance is genius on display.

Elkie’s a singer, damn right

Continuing my wandering around, I also came across this performance of Lilac Wine by the astounding Elkie Brooks.

This song was a constant accompaniment to my time at University. It always seemed to be one of the “grab a girl” options at the end of a disco in the Old Refectory. It remains one of the few and most honest songs about alcohol abuse. The point wasn’t lost on any of us, as we struggled to stay on our feet and grope our equally drunk partner at the same time as swaying lugubriously to Elkie’s mesmerising performance, lubricated with enough Wadworths 6X to float a fleet of battleships.

This lesser-known version, from a German TV show, is, I think, closer to the true nature of the song than the version delivered on Top of the Pops, which you can also find if you want, but honestly it’s not as good as this. Interestingly, Miley Cyrus has also recorded the song in her “backyard sessions” – and I am not a big Miley Cyrus fan, but fair play she belts it out really well.

And just how good is Elkie Brooks, by the way? Just track ’em down for yourself. “Pearl’s A Singer”, “Fool if you think it’s Over”, “Don’t cry out loud”. What a voice.

Vinegar Joe for all you history buffs

She was one half of Vinegar Joe with a younger Robert Palmer too … wish I could have seen that.

This early recording is pretty crap quality, and right at the beginning of their time together, I think, but it gives a great indication of how they rocked together. Were they ever really that young? Apparently, yes.

I can’t help feeling that if Elkie Brooks had been American and not British she would have been considered one of the pre-eminent blues/pop singers of her generation.Now 67 years old, she is still going strong, apparently, and long may it be so.

Last but not least

My last favourite for today would have to be one of everybody’s faves, surely?

In 1979, I was in love. She was the first one, but not the last one. There is something about this song with is inscrutable, peculiar, obsessive, and it is, of course, blessed with one of the great choruses of all time. The musical production is simply brilliant.

What is the video about? Indeed, what’s the song about? Lord knows. But frankly, who cares? It’s something to do with loss of innocence, which is probably why it resonates with me so strongly: it smells of when I was passing uneasily into adulthood. I expect to get there one day.

Here’s a piece of trivia: this was the first video ever played on MTV. Did you know that?

Anyhow, I’d love you to nominate YOUR favourite You Tube clip, please. Tomorrow, back to miserable crap about Syria or the Republicans or world hunger or something. Meanwhile, just enjoy the music.

Davy Jones in 2011

The same chirpy grin, the same good-natured twinkle in the eye

How sad to hear that the Monkee’s Davy Jones has died of a heart attack at just 66 years young.

I was a kid in the 60s and 70s, and the Monkees were simply part of my life. Discussions about whether they were a “real” pop group or merely a manufactured confection are surely irrelevant.  They were enormous fun and took to their roles with huge enthusiasm – in an era when much “popular” music was created by hard headed folks with an eye for what the public wanted. I have heard it argued they were the first “boy band”. Whatever.

What mattered is the lads themselves oozed talent – you can’t fake that – and none less than irrepressible young Brit Davy Jones, who instantly won a huge following in the US and elsewhere with his Beatles-style haircut, natural good looks and elfin charm.

Here’s a great clip of the lads performing in New York just last year, and obviously having a great time. The reaction of the crowd reveals their genuine appeal.

They copped a lot of flak – included being called the “Prefab Four” as opposed to the Beatles, but the criticism seemed carping and mean-spirited then and still does.

That they went on to create a genuine following and deliver some of the best pop tunes of the era was their sweet revenge.

If you want to enjoy the original, too, here it is. The bit at the end where the boys vie to be in the front was kicked off by prankster Mickey Dolenz, (it starts at about two minutes in), and whilst it might have been scripted it looks spontaneous, and as this particular video became very well known it obviously explains why he and Davy and larking around in the same way in the 2011 show. And you know what? It’s still funny, all these years later. I defy you to watch it and not smile.

The success of the band should not be under-rated. As David Bianculli noted in his Dictionary of Teleliteracy, “The show’s self-contained music videos, clear forerunners of MTV, propelled the group’s first seven singles to enviable positions of the pop charts: three number ones, two number twos, two number threes.” Quite some record.

Well someone thought they were good. This is the Monkees in 1967. From left: Mike Nesmith, Davy Jones, Peter Tork and Micky Dolenz pose with their Emmy award at the 19th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards in California. It's not as well-known that Jones had previously been a child star in England and been nominated for a Tony for his role as the Artful Dodger in Oliver, on Broadway. Pic: AAP Source: AP

And though initially the Monkees weren’t allowed to play their own instruments, they were supported by enviable talent: Carole King and Gerry Goffin wrote Pleasant Valley Sunday, and Neil Diamond penned I’m a Believer. Musicians who played on their records included Billy Preston (who only later played with the Beatles), Glen Campbell, Leon Russell, Ry Cooder and Neil Young. That they had their own musical talent is undoubted – Peter Tork wrote the piano arrangement of Daydream Believer himself.

The outpouring of grief at the death of this much-loved 60s icon seems entirely genuine, and of a more proportioned and thoughtful – and gentle – nature than that which greeted the news of Whitney Houston’s equally untimely demise a couple of weeks back.

Rather than a wailing and a gnashing of teeth, the world simply seems to have paused for a moment and breathed a collective sigh, and to my mind that sigh reflects a wistful sadness at a symbol of the passing of a simpler and somehow less fraught era when not every media appearance was attended by a cavalcade of “fucks”, messy unwanted pregnancies, world-weary cynicism, and endless stories of foolish drug-taking and idiot drunken-ness.

That this feeling is also the product of the rose-tinted spectacles that accompany any retrospective view makes it no less true. The world has become a harsher place, and the death of Davy Jones and what he stood for just makes it more so, by a tiny but perceptible increment.

A lot of us are still Daydream Believers as we waddle grumpily through and past our middle age, and if the song comes on at a party or in a club are suddenly transformed into carefree teenagers again, belting out the lyrics with delighted abandon. What bigger compliment could a band want? Thanks for the memories, Davy.