The Best and Worst of 2012

This post is late. Like REALLY late. I have a good excuse though. I am moving house, so everything is kind of up in the air and by the time I realised that it was actually Saturday it was Saturday and therefore too late anyway. It’s not really a good excuse is it? “I’m late because all of my possessions are in a box and I forgot what day it was.” Anyway, whatever. Point is, I figured that at this time of year the best thing for me to be doing would be to be making a list of the best and worst pop cultural things from 2012. Given the amount of hating that I do on this blog, I figure that I should probably turn things on their head and write about the things I like first.

The Best of 2012

  1. Explosion of Korean Pop Music on the International Stage – If you had said to me 12 months ago, “Alex, by December you will have devoted at least 6 months exclusively to listening to/watching/ absorbing k-pop. You will think about about little else. Your sense of style will go out the window in favour of making yourself look like a member of a boy band and by 2013 you will probably have written a book of poetry dedicated to the jawline of one particularly handsome gentlman,” I would have said, “You’re probably right. I do have a tendency to overreact to these things.” But nothing could have prepared me for the strength with which my new found love would viciously rip apart my soul. Seriously. I’m not being melodramatic. This is an actual problem. Someone send help.
    My poem was less of an ode and more of a limerick: "There once was a girl from Australia, Who flew to Korea to nail ya..." but it turns out I can't even finish a limerick.

    My poem was less of an ode and more of a limerick: “There once was a girl from Australia, Who flew to Korea to nail ya…” but it turns out I can’t even finish a limerick.

    By now about one sixth of the world’s population has seen Psy’s mega-monster hit Gangam Style. At the time of writing the view could was sitting at 1,081,812,822. And regardless of all the people who are going to give it hate now because they’ve heard the song a million times, the film clip is hilarious and Psy himself is really funny (see: his Reddit AMA in which he was asked if he got bored of playing the same song over and over again, to which he responded “How can I be bored? I am too busy doing the horsey dance”). But, if you haven’t ventured beyond  Gangam Style into the broader realms of K-Pop then you are seriously missing out because hoooo-boy is there some fantastic stuff that you should be checking out. In terms of fabulous video clips, my favourite from this year has been Big Bang’s piece of excellence, Fantastic Baby. If people played this when I went out, I might go out more (friends, take note).

    THE VIDEO HAS EVERYTHING! There’s an owl, a revolution, a banging good tune, multicoloured hair, thrones, crowns, the phrase “boom shakalaka”,  fabulous minty coloured kitty-lipped handsome prince bastard hanging out in picture frames and boys in makeup who are significantly prettier than I could ever hope to be (which is officially my ‘type’, in case anyone was wondering). It also comes with some seriously cool live performances (there are three links there…click ALL of them!) and a dance routine that is unexpectedly sexy. There are, of course, loads of groups that you should check out. 2ne1 are an excellent girl group (I loves me some lady rappers and CL is a queen), Psy’s other stuff (he’s been around for 12 years, people) is actually REALLY good, Tablo is the cutest thing to ever cute and his band Epik High released one of my favourite pop albums from this year (seriously), Block B get around dressed like pirates which is essentially my life goal, SHINee are some sort of dance-transformer unit, B.A.P are possibly all 12 years old but it’s hard to tell because someone put them in leather. I can’t recommend everything I love because it would take me too long, but my GOD. Go watch some things. Do yourselves a favour.
    Whenever anyone asks how I can enjoy k-pop so much my most recent response has been to point at the videos from the 2012 MAMAs (Mnet Asian Music Awards).

    Aside from the intense amount of choreography that goes into the stages, Big Bang’s rapper, G-Dragon, literally dyes his hair halfway through the ceremony. WHO DOES THAT? A motherfucking rapper who out-divas Kanye, that’s who. There’s a lot of things to like about k-pop (bilingual puns for one) but I think my favourite thing is that it’s not just about the music, it’s about the whole performance – choreography, costume, stage, lighting, plot. And the hair dye. Always the hair dye.

  2. Superheroes – A bunch of superhero-related movies came out this year and I was unreasonably excited about all of them, because that’s just the kind of dork I am. Hell, the excitement even kept going when a couple of them weren’t totally disappointing. The Avengers came out in May. I was very emotional about it. Some would say too emotional. (People without souls.) The point is, someone finally let Joss Whedon write a superhero movie and by God did he do the best darn job he could. There were ladies. EVERYWHERE. And they kicked arse. Scarlett Johannson backflipped all over the place being the coolest person ever. As far as I am concerned, she also became a real life superhero when she laid the smack down on a bunch of reporters asking the age-old (and very tired) question, “What did you do to get in shape for the suit?”

    Anne Hathway was similarly cool in the other gigantic superhero movie of the year, The Dark Knight Rises and dealt with similarly stupid questions about what she ate so she could wear the catsuit. LADIES BEING AMAZING ONSCREEN AND OFFSCREEN. IT IS MY FAVOURITE THING.
    The boys did OK as well. Christian Bale rounded out his run as Batman by being as incomprehenisble as he was in the other two films. Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston made up for the fact that Thor was really dull by being amazing in The Avengers. Hiddleston in particular was a bit of a scene-stealer. Andrew Garfield was a fantastic Spiderman, which almost-but-not-quite made up for the fact that The Amazing Spiderman was a really average film despite the fact that I was desperately rooting for it to live up to its name. This trailer parody is upsettingly accurate.

    Anyway. It was a good year for superheroes and I was well pleased.
  3. The End of the World That Never Happened – It’s not really pop culture in the sense I usually blog about, but the Mayans predicted the ended of the world. Conspiracy theorists everywhere bought up all the canned food and eagerly awaited the apocolypse. (There’s nothing conspiracy theorists love more than preparing for an apocolypse on the off chance that they may be right.) Unsurpsingly, very little happened. There was no bang. There wasn’t even a whimper. It was a little disappointing. Much like this summary paragraph. Anyway, we’re all still here. Kudos to the Mayans for trolling contemporary archeologists and in turn, the rest of the world.

Honourable mentions go to: Miley Cyrus’ hair cut and Taylor Momsen’s lyricism for The Pretty Wreckless (“try to keep my body dirty and my hot pussy clean”…she is what? 18? 19? I choose to believe she is talking about an actual cat), sudden resurgence in popularity of the song No Diggity by Blackstreets (which featured in Pitch Perfect and was also covered by Chet Faker).

The Worst of 2012

  1. Lana Del Rey Film Clips – Normally, I try to avoid ripping on Lana Del Rey because it’s boring and everyone does it even though we all know deep down that we walked around humming Video Games for about six months there. I don’t even actually dislike her music that much. She’s got a schtick and she’s running with it. Whatever. What I do dislike is her unecessarily long and pretentious film clips. There’s been a bit of a trend recently for ladies to have a little opening narration in their clips. Gaga did it. It was long and unnecessary. But you kind of expect that with Gaga. Her albums have plot lines, so it doesn’t feel out of place. But Lana Del Rey’s album has very little in the way of plot, aside from glorifying sort of fading Americana for which we’re all supposed to yearn. So the sudden appearance of a 10 minute video with 5 minutes dedicated exclusively to meaningless drivel about “the open road”, “finding my people” and some sort of prosititution theme involving bikers which is more traumatic than Lana originally intended I think, is off-putting and seemingly out of the blue. Don’t even get me started on the hipster head dress.

    I watched this in the kitchen with my housemates the day it came out and spend the whole time screaming “WHY!?” at the computer until it was suggested that I maybe go for a walk and come back when I was ready to deal with idiots. Del Rey wrote the treatment for the video herself. Which I guess says something. That something might be “I needed an excuse to make out with old men who ride Harleys.” But that’s still something.
  2. Chris Brown – I don’t even really know what to say, considering I wrote the same blog post a couple of weeks ago. But seriously. Chris Brown is a gigantic shithead. Why does he have a career? Why won’t he go away? Why won’t Rihanna date me instead? THESE ARE THE IMPORTANT QUESTIONS I NEED ANSWERED, PEOPLE. All joking aside though, why do people think it’s acceptable that he can still make records and have a hashtag dedicated to his stupid face. Aside from being a lady-beating asshat, he just generally comes off as a jerk most of the time. Like, even in his video clips he just kind of seems like an asshole. He’s written a song called Don’t Judge Me. Check it out.

    It’s about those pesky women in his life hearing rumours about him and getting all judgy. Have an actual lyrical sample: “I won’t deny what they’re saying because most of it is true, but that was all before I fell for you.” So, if we’re to assume the rumours referenced in the song are about cheating, then what’s he’s essentially saying is “Yes, I boned some other people while we were together. But I love you now. So I can see that that was probably a mistake. So like… stop bringing it up.” If we take it a step further and say that the rumours his lady friend has been hearing are about him beating the shit out of an unspecified, completely hypthetical girlfriend who is most definitely not a famous pop star, then it still translates pretty poorly as, “Yes, I probably maybe definitely beat the ever-loving Christ out of my girlfriend. But that was OK, because I didn’t love her. And I love you. So we’re good. You don’t even have to worry about me swinging right hooks at you.” Either way, he still comes off as an asshole. He’s not even self-aware enough to be deliberately writing a song from the perspective of an asshole, so you know he’s just a prick. Anyway. Where was I? Oh yeah. WHY IS HE STILL HERE? This is what that no-show apocolypse was supposed to purge us of.
  3. Sherlock Season 3 is so far away – I mentioned when I first started this blog that I am a big ol’ fan of the BBC’s adaptation of Sherlock Holmes. Actually, pretty much any incarnation of Holmes is OK by me, but I am particularly fond of the BBC one. So much so that I have had to restrain myself from posting about it every second time I’m on here (same goes for the k-pop thing… I might be vaguely obsessive, but this is why I love “end of the year round up” posts). Anyway, at the beginning of this year Sherlock Season 2 came out. I wept tears of blood because it was so good and there was so much beauty in the world. Having said that, it ended on a massive fucking cliffhanger. A MASSIVE. GODDAMN. MOTHERLICKING. CLIFF. HANGER. Anyway, those smarmy bastards who star in it had the audacity to go and have gigantic and successful movie careers. Martin Freeman went off to swan around in The Hobbit (which I still haven’t fucking seen yet because moving house distracts me from everything I love) and Benedict Cumberbatch is in Star Trek. This means that the filming schedule on the BBC production has been pushed back. RIGHT back. Like, they probably won’t start filming before the end of 2013. Which means it won’t come out until then end of 2014 probably. Which means I’ll probably be nearly 25 before I get to watch another episode of this stupid damn show. I wouldn’t have a flipping problem with that except… no. Wait. I cannot imagine a scenario in which this is not a problem for me. I am very upset.

Honourable mentions: moving house (I hate it so much it gives me energy in the morning), Taylor Swift (always and forever), ambient electronic music, my internet connection (because right now it is being the worst).

On a side note, my other favourite thing this year has been the fact that several of you are crazy enough to be interested in this blog. Hello. Why are you here?… I mean… would you like a cup of tea? Please love me? Stay forever? On that slightly creepy tone, I end this blog. That was my best and worst for the year. What’s yours? Tell me what floats  your boat. Or grinds your gears. Either/or. Happy New Year.

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Remember Aaron Carter?

I have roused myself from a food coma specifically to get on the computer and tell you that today is going to be a particularly lazy blog because if I stay upright for too long I start to feel sick (my mother always over caters Christmas). Anyway, this would be a review of The Hobbit, which came out today in Australia, but I am stuck in rural New South Wales and the cinema here closed while I was still in high school. As such, I don’t even really know what I’m going to be writing about today. I seriously spent the last 20 minutes trying to find something to write about, but all I found was the UK Female Allstars and breakfast. But I checked my social networks and decided I’m just going to make you a recommendation: go and check out Aaron Carter’s Twitter feed.

Those of you who are around my age may remember Aaron Carter. He was the younger brother of Nick Carter, of the Backstreet Boys (obviously). He was a little closer in age to the younger portion of the BSB’s fan base and thus very quickly found an audience of screaming tweenies ready to get down and party to his glorious covers of I Want Candy and originals like Aaron’s Party (Come Get It). Let’s take the opportunity to enjoy that last little gem there.

Anyway, he was also renowned for being for being so disgustingly adorable that he actually started a fight between Lindsay Lohan and Hilary Duff at some Disney awards show. (Lindsay before the drug problem and Hilary before the baby.)

Stud.

The 90s were a poor time for everyone.

But then he kind of just dropped off the radar for ages. But thanks to the power of Twitter, we can now know what he’s doing at all times. I’ve seen some fairly wonderful Twitter accounts, but Aaron is just really dishing out some gold, particularly to people who accuse him of being “washed up”. As if Aaron Carter is washed up. He has a Twitter account. It is verified. Beat that. Haters. I’m just going to let Aaron take over from here, because he can defend himself infinitely better than I can.

First of all, Aaron would just like to clarify that the reason you hate him is cos you can’t handle him.

ACTweetSecondly, he does still have fans. Sometimes they even ask for photographs. It’s funny, if a little inconvenient at times.

ACtweet2Lolz. Oh Aaron. (For those of you who had forgotten about Aaron Carter, that was a Carter related pun because he released an album called Oh Aaron. The joke is even less funny when I have to explain it.) Either way, he totally doesn’t have to respond to your stupidity.

ACTweet3

;

This last one is my favourite. Fame gets lonely y’all. Sometimes you just need the Twitter machine to get some babes to chat to your sexy face.

ACTweet4No word on how that panned out. You can find the rest of it here. I would highly recommend checking it out. Apparently he also released a single with Flo Rida. It’s pretty awful. Check it out here. I’m off to keep stuffing my face because it’s Christmas and that’s what we do. See you on Friday.

Merry (Shitty) Christmas!

‘Tis the season to be jolly! Falalalaaaaa! Etc. I dunno about you guys, but I have spent the lead up to Christmas working in retail (because blogging don’t pay, yo) and have thus been forced to listen to terrible Christmas carols on repeat. For 10 hours at a time. From overly meaningful interpretations of Little Drummer Boy to Mariah Carey, my shop’s mix CD (or iPod, I dunno, I don’t deal with the sound system) has it all. In honour of my eardrums finally exploding into rivers of blood and sadness, I have decided to bring forth the 12 shittiest Christmas albums I could come up with for your listening pleasure (because 12 days of Christmas. Geddit? I am so very clever.)

Helping me out on this blog is my very good friend Wesley, who gave me some hot tips for my “songs about bitches” blog earlier in the year. Wes is co-owner of the biggest CD collection known to man (or to me, anyway), so he helped me source 12 terrible albums to talk about, although he wanted me to emphasise that he is only actually in possession of one of them. Because listening to and reviewing 12 albums is a GIGANTIC undertaking and I leave everything until the last possible moment, we’re going to be reviewing 6 albums each. Anyway, without further ado:

  1. Rod Stewart – Merry Christmas, Baby – (Alex) Oh Rod Stewart. Please to be stopping with the career now, thank you. This album is the kind of thing that they really hammer the advertising for in the daytime TV slot so that housewives across the country can remember when Rod was a hot young thing and they were hot young things and wanted to marry him. To his credit, he does have some fairly epic features on this hot mess, including Cee Lo (who makes an appearance later in this list), Trombone Shorty, Michael Bublé and Mary J. Blige. The Michael Bublé feature on Winter Wonderland, really emphasises the fact that Rod’s not as young as he used to be and his voice is definitely not aging particularly well.
    Standout Track: It’s so hard to choose, but I’m probably going to have to go with Santa Clause is Coming to Town just because his voice sounds like it’s really on its way out with this one and the American accent is just appalling.

    Standout Lyric: They’re all pretty standard Christmas songs, so I’m probably going to have to go with We Three Kings because it’s one of my favourite carols and the opening line of “We three kings of Orient are/ Bearing gifts we traverse afar/ Field and fountain/ Moor and mountain/ Following yonder star” makes Stewart sound like he’s about to choke. Thankfully Mary J. Blige takes over not long after and actually adds some oomph to the occasion.
  2. The Beach Boys – Christmas Album – (Wes) Early in the their career, The Beach Boys were America’s surf-rock answer to The Beatles. Yet at the end of 1964 they decided it would a great idea to release a surf-rock Christmas album. Commercially speaking, they were right and they made a shitload of money. Artistically, it’s probably the biggest cock-up of their career. Every track is vomit-inducing. Apparently the fun of the Beach Boys and the fun of Christmas cancel each other out. Who knew? I am so very glad this album only plays for 28 minutes.
    Standout Track: Doesn’t give me much to work with but Little Saint Nick is probably it.

    Standout Lyric: Gotta run with Little Saint Nick again and the line “Christmas comes this time each year” sung with so little excitement it’s as though the Beach Boys regret its very existance.
  3. John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John – This Christmas – (Alex)This is a just a shitshow. I don’t even know where to start. I couldn’t get through the album. I tried. It was impossible. Instead I am going to take this opportunity to show you the video and we can have a chat about that, OK? It’s called I Think You Might Like It. Spoiler alert: I do not.

    Right. So. Uhhh. Where to start? How’s about with the fact that these two are like, the least convincing couple ever to fake it on screen? They are so far past their use by date that I can’t even think of something to finish off that sentence because I’m just so flabbergasted that either of their PR teams let this be made. They line dance. THEY LINE DANCE BADLY. Why does Olivia Newton-John Drive so slowly? Why is there a tiny creature clinging to John Travolta’s chin? Who are all these people standing in what is very obviously a private airport? Are they lost? Why does the whole thing look like a used car commercial? Somone send help.
    Standout Song: Since this is the only one I made it through, I guess this has to be it, doesn’t it? Sigh.
    Standout Lyric:I’ve got a little plan for you/ I think you might like it/ Let’s do that little dance we do/ I think you might like it/ And then we’re gonna hide away/ Makin’ love all night/ And we can cry tomorrow/ Watching ‘It’s a Wonderful Life'” Call me crazy, but does that not sound like the worst Christmas ever? Succumbing to Olivia Newton-John’s ‘plan for you’, then being made to do the little dance, which I can only assume is the poorly co-ordinated line dance they’re having a go at, THEN after all that, being hidden away to ‘make love’ to John Travolta and his chin fuzz all night. After the love-making is finished he forces you to watch It’s a Wonderful Life, whilst weeping. Eurgh. I feel unclean.
  4. Cee Lo- Magic Moment – (Wes) Cee Lo brings the funk to Christmas on this album, channeling the Motown vibes and creating actually a pretty decent album. Kind of. More realistically, it’s a hit and miss collection of some rocking versions of classic songs, a couple of originals with lots of guests. Christina Aguilera ruins the second track, The Muppets featuring on the 6th (Mahna Mahna is sampled and doesn’t work at all) and Rod Stewart features on Merry Christmas, Baby (great move from both artists putting the same version of the same song on both their Christmas albums). It’s so obviously a cash grab or a contractual obligation but it really does sound like Cee Lo genuinely is feeling the Christmas spirit so you can’t help but enjoy at least most of it.
    Standout Track: This Christmas. Fantastic version, a really funky horn arrangement makes it a pleasure to listen to.

    Standout Lyric: “Your heart is full of unwashed socks/ your soul is full of gunk” from You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch. Just great to hear Cee Lo singing those lyrics to be honest.
  5. Neil Diamond – The Christmas Album – (Alex) It’s funny. I start playing these and I’m like “Surely nothing can be as bad as that” and then I keep going down my list and listening to stuff and it just keeps being awful. If I haven’t clawed by own ear drums out after this we’ll be very lucky. Anyway, Neil Diamond, who is kind of terrible anyway, did a bunch of overly sentimental Christmas songs and it is (unsurprisingly) not very good. One of my flatmates insists that Hot August Night is immortal, but if that’s the case 1992 was not kind to Neil and the Fountain of Youth had definitely worn off.
    Standout Track: I’m a big fan of covers of Little Drummer Boy because people tend to do it in the most dramatically meaningful way possible when in reality it’s a song about a kid playing a drum at a baby, which is clearly not appropriate behaviour for around a new born, and is mostly just the words “pa rum pa pum pum” over and over again. Anyway, Neil really gives it his all and even goes so far as making video clip, which features some epic shoulder pads and some very meaningful lip-synching.

    Standout Lyric: These are all covers, so I don’t know if you can really pick a standout lyric, but there is a truly tragic cover of John Lennon’s Happy Christmas (War is Over) which is a song that I usually love. The sound of Neil Diamond trying to drape more sentimentality onto the words “And so this is Christmas/ And what have you done?” is just too much.
  6. David Hasselhoff – The Night Before Christmas – (Wes) It was never going to be good or easy to listen to but I never expected it to be anywhere near as awful as it actually is. I seriously struggled to get past the first track which features what I assume are The Hoff’s kids singing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star (not joking) before The Hoff presents a spoken word version of The Night Before Christmas that would bore William Shatner into a coma. Once you get past that it’s classic, cheesy 80s production and Hasselhoff’s over enunciated vocals right through the album. Except that the album isn’t from the 80s. It’s from 2004. Claire Danes understands my feelings:

    WhhhhhhhhhYYyYYy??!!!1!one!!

    I hope that there is no one in existence who likes this album and I feel sorry for anyone who spent money on it.
    Standout Track: Silent Night. Drum machine, electric piano, chimes and over-produced backing vocals. It stands out for the wrong reasons. Seriously, fucking awful.

    Standout Lyric: Spoken word monologue in the middle of Silent Night. I don’t even want to write it down. Please don’t make me listen to it again.

  7. Justin Bieber – Under the Mistletoe – (Alex) Excellent marketing ploy making a Christmas album the tweenies will actually buy/ force their parents to buy for them. Having said that, it’s bloody awful and I hate everything. I think it’s the fact that you can almost hear the smug smirk in his voice as he sings. It’s like he’s saying “I could just say my name over and over again and you would still buy this album. Instead I have Usher and Boyz to Men and Busta Rhymes and Mariah Carey.” Speaking of Busta Rhymes his feature on this is really something special in terms of lyricism, but I’ll save that for later.
    Standout Track: Oh I’m gonna have to do with Drummer Boy on this one. Essentially what Bieber has done is make himself a dancey little tune about how much swag he has (how swag he is? How do you construct that sentence? I’m not sure), but then change it halfway through to a lecture on dealing with other people’s poverty at Christmas time. Yes. Good. Thank you, Bieber.

    Standout Lyric: As mentioned before, Busta Rhymes is really something special here. It sounds kind of like he ran out of things to rap about almost immediately, so he just tells the story of how he ended up featuring on the track and how he likes his egg nog. Seriously. Take a look at this verse:

    “Lemme get straight to it. Yo./ At the table with the family, havin’ dinner/ Blackberry on our hip and then it gave a little flicker/ Then I took a look to see before it activates the ringer/ Came to realize my homie Bieber hit me on the Twitter/ Then I hit him back despite I had some food up on my finger/ Sippin’ eggnog with a little sprinkle of vanilla/ Even though it’s kinda cold, pullin’ out a chinchilla/ Bieber hit me back and said, “Let’s make it hot up in the winter.” I said, “Cool.”/Ya know Imma deliver/ Let’s collaborate and make the holiday a little bigger/ Before we work I gotta get this off/ See the other family members and drop gifts off/ Then I’m headed to the studio cause ain’t nothing stopping how/ You know we bout to turn it up and really get it poppin’ now/ People everywhere and all our Twitter followers/”Merry Christmas, Kwanza, happy Hanukkah! “

  8. Bob Dylan – Christmas in the Heart – (Wes) Some people like Bob Dylan. I’ve heard people claim that his songs are exceptional and he sings them with a fiery passion. Personally, I think he’s written some great songs in his career but he sings them like a drunk in a pub. Not surprisingly then, Christmas in the Heart sounds exactly like a drunk in a pub singing traditional Christmas songs. I find this album absolutely hilarious. I honestly can’t work out if this is Dylan being a sardonic jerk or if he genuinely thought this was a good idea. I have had trouble listening to it because I keep have to stop and laugh.
    Standout Track: Must Be Santa, which is performed as a polka which puts Weird Al Yankovic to shame. The accordians are out in force on this track, which comes complete with this hilarious video.

    Standout Lyric: Being all traditional songs we already know the lyrics but I really think the highlight is Dylan half howling, half moaning “Hark the herald angels sing/ Glory to the newborn king.”
  9. Twisted Sister – A Twisted Christmas – (Alex) Alright, I have a confession. I actually flipping love Twisted Sister. Like a lot. So their inclusion on this list is essentially an excuse for me to enjoy some Twisted Sister times without copping flack for it. I also love, given the amount of hate that the band copped in that 80s “metal is the Devil, oh Lord those men are dressed as ladies” period of US censorship, the soothing sounds of Dee Snider singing Oh Come All Ye Faithful. Because that is hilarious and definitely not getting old any time soon.
    Standout Track: Oh Come All Ye Faithful is a definite highlight in terms of listening value. I also highly recommend their Heavy Metal Christmas, which is the band’s take on 12 Days of Christmas.

    I also really enjoy the video clip for this, because it was released in 2006 and Dee Snider still decided to stick with what he knows and go the full face of make up and hair. Also, just “lol” at the drummer’s face with the wind machine. Actually just “lol” at the drummer’s face the whole time.
    Standout Lyric: The entirity of Heavy Metal Christmas is a standout. For the record, the true love’s shopping list for a “heavy metal Christmas” involves: “12 silver crosses/ 11 black mascaras/ 10 pairs of platforms/ 9 tattered T-shirts/ 8 pentagrams/ 7 leather jackets/ 6 cans of hairspray/ 5 skull earrings/ 4 quarts of Jack/ 3 studded belts/ 2 pairs of Spandex pants/ And a tattoo of Ozzy!” My only complaint with this list is that 6 cans of hairspray is blatantly not enough.
  10. Tori Amos – Midwinter Graces – (Wes) Midwinter Graces is a weird experience. Tori Amos took inspiration from Christmas songs and made her own from them. Some of the songs share elements with the originals but all of them have new arrangements and lyrics and so I find myself in two minds about this album. On the one hand it’s a pretty awful Christmas album, on the other hand it’s a pretty awful Tori Amos album. I don’t think it’s any harder to listen to than any other Tori Amos album – which is why I didn’t make it all the way through.
    Stand out track: Pink and Glitter. A fairly sultry experience with some great horn lines. If you get that far through the album, it’s a welcome change.

    Stand out lyric: “Shower the world / shower the world / shower the world / with pink if you please” from Pink and Glitter. No real reason. Just cos.
  11. N Sync – Home for Christmas – (Alex) This one is noteable mainly because the songs were, for the most part, written for the album and aren’t just covers of traditional Christmas songs. It sounds exactly like 1998. To be honest, I don’t even know what more to say. Listening to this many Christmas songs in a row was exhausting. This was a terrible idea. I don’t know why I agreed to it. If anyone needs me I will be weeping quietly in a corner.
    Standout Song: Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays. Co-written by Justin Timberlake and JC Chasez. God is sending us his love at Christmas, apparently. I think this might have been an attempt and writing an upbeat track, whilst maintaining some “meaningful” lyrical content. Needless to say, it failed.

    Standout Lyric: This one starts out as as a track about being thankful for friends at Christmas and then takes a bit of a turn when it turns out it’s actually about gettin’ down. “So thankful for/All of our friends/When the party is over/The night’s just begun/I promise the best part/Is yet to come/Slow dance together/Two become one/That’s what we’ve waited all day for/No one else but me and you/Nothing I would rather do/Then hold you all through the night/Under my tree.” In other news, the phrase “two become one” was my favourite euphemistic term from 90s boy bands about having the sex.
  12. Lynyrd Skynyrd – Christmas Time Again – (Wes) Lynyrd Skynyrd as a band have always appealed to a certain demographic. I find their country infused rock hard to listen to and it really shouldn’t translate well to Christmas songs. But fuck me, this album is exceptional. Why does it exist? WHO CARES! These hicks sure know how to have a rockin’ Christmas shindig and you can’t help but enjoy it. I really wanted to review this album and tell everyone how shit it was and now I can’t so I’m disappointed.
    Stand out song: Santa Claus Wants Some Lovin’. Need I say more?

    [Quick note from Alex: Oh. My. GOD.]
    Stand out lyric: “Now Christmas is for the children / and I want them to be real pleased / but right now Mama it’s Christmas Eve come make your Papa happy please” from the same track.

Anyway kids, that’s it. That’s the Christmas blog. Big ol’ thanks to Wes, without whom I would have been up until 4 in the morning instead of just 1 in the morning. Have yourselves a Merry little Christmas and various other cliches. As a parting gift have some of me and my mad MS Paint skillz wishing you a good time.

Snapshot_20121221

Swift vs. Cyrus: Some Thoughts

You may have seen this graphic comparing Taylor Swift and Miley Cyrus circulating online recently:

It’s not a particularly interesting image, but it’s been getting some heat because Ken Baker, E! Chief News Correspondent, posted it to his Twitter feed asking if his followers agreed and claiming he was “standing up for” Miley Cyrus. If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, you will already be aware of how I feel about Taylor Swift – namely that I have an intense dislike of everything she stands for. I don’t know if I’ve ever said anything about Miley, so I feel like now is the perfect time to just jump in there and have a crack at everything. Let’s get down to it.

This image is stupid for many reasons, not the least of which is the fact that it looks like it has been put together on a Word document. It generated a lot of heat for Baker after he posted it, with a number of online followers accusing him of ‘slut shaming’. For those not familiar with the concept have a cheeky little definition from Wikipedia:

Slut-shaming is defined as the act of making someone, usually a woman, feel guilty or inferior, for engaging in certain sexual behaviors that violate traditional gender expectations. These include, depending on culture, having a large number of sex partners, having sexual relations outside marriage, having casual sexual relations, or acting or dressing in a way that is deemed excessively sexual. This is often done by name calling (often using the word “slut” itself) as well as covert shaming.

So you can see, it’s a fairly accurate description of what is going on in Baker’s image. The implication is that even though Miley Cyrus dresses in a way that defines her as “slutty” she is actually the good girl in this scenario because she has been in a monogamous relationship for the last three years. Conversely, Taylor Swift dresses in a way that defines her as a good girl, but behaves in a way that is “slutty” by having multiple partners over the same time frame.

You don’t need to be a genius to know that that scenario is messed up. Or maybe you do since this sort of thing seems to happen regularly and people who are supposed to know better don’t seem to find a problem with it. In which case, let me break it down for you. These young women are marketed at women and girls the same age and younger. This image promotes the idea that a) there is a ‘correct’ and ‘incorrect’ way for young women to be behaving when it comes to their sexuality/their relationships and that b) the correct way to behave is to devote yourself to one person and the institution of marriage as early as possible and that being a ‘slut’ is the worst thing that could happen and is something to be avoided. Now, I’m not judging Miley. Although I know if I was engaged to the person I was seeing at 19/20 things would have probably taken a terrible turn and I would not be blogging here or doing much of anything really. But I’m also not judging Taylor. There’s billions of fish in the sea. Give them a test run. It might work out really well for you. Different strokes for different folks, ya know? There is no correct way to get your rocks off (save for the obviously morally reprehensible and illegal ways… I shouldn’t have to explain those, it’s some common sense stuff).

In short, this is a stupid thing started by a grown-ass man who wanted to create some drama to fuel some TV ratings. “But Alex! What about your vicious and all-consuming dislike of Taylor Swift? Doesn’t that have something to do with her gaggle of men-folk?” No. It has nothing to do with the quantity of men and everything to do with the fact that Swift deals with break-ups with the emotional maturity of a 4 year old and is generally a bad role model. But that’s a whole other story that can mostly be found in this post here.

My feelings on Miley Cyrus can be summed up with the word “oomph”, followed by some incomprehensible noises of vague arousal and this photograph:

Miley Cyrus

I just like pointy studs and pretty girls with butch hair cuts, OK? It’s a thing. Shuttup.

Bandwagon Ahoy!: Just a Bit o’ the Ol’ Ultraviolence

So, after a weekend of loitering in the Australian bush, dancing like crazy for 12 hours a day and nursing hangovers on my friend’s couch I am back and ready to blog. Whilst nursing aforementioned hangover, I rewatched The Hunger Games, which in turn launched me down the path of re-reading/re-watching the Japanese cult hit that shares a suspiciously similar concept, Battle Royale. 

Hunger

I’m assuming most of you know the concept of The Hunger Games – kids are offered up as tribute to fight to the death in an arena controlled by the government as punishment for a rebellion that tore the country up for a while. Our heroine, Katniss Everdeen, uses her hunting skills, brought about by intense poverty, to survive and win the games. Revolution  ensues, etc. etc. Battle Royale runs along the same lines. A class of high school students is offered up for “research purposes” to fight to the death on an island controlled by the government. The winner gets to live on a government pension for the rest of their lives and the winner is shown (often sent raving mad and covered in blood) to the public to keep the fear and paranoia going. Shuya Nanahara and Noriko Nakagawa both manage to survive, but there’s no revolution or glorious ending. They just end up on the run, trying to escape to the US so that they can continue to live.

I’m not pointing out the similarities in plot to criticise. I think both books and their filmic adaptations are trying to achieve something different. They’re also directed at significantly different audiences, so where The Hunger Games has a lot of implied violence, Battle Royale is a mass of gun violence and psychosis.

So, if I’m not here to tear Suzanne Collins apart for ripping off Battle Royale what am I even doing? Excellent question. I was catching up on what I missed in my little week off I came across an article on EW talking about the two new reality shows that American network The CW has ordered for their lineup, one of which is called The Hunt and sounds suspiciously like they’ve turned The Hunger Games into a reality TV show. Wait…in the book it is already a TV show… Well, they’ve just taken the death out of The Hunger Games and put it on TV essentially.

In this show, 12 teams of two are dropped into the forest and have to capture other players in order to win a cash prize. They’ll spend a month running around in the wilderness, using their hunting skills and whatnot to survive. On top of that the network is also apparently developing a drama series based around Battle Royale. Like, not just a sneaky rip off in the way The Hunt sounds like it’s going to be. They’ve actually made calls to Japan to inquire about buying the rights to a TV show. Their reasoning? “Battle Royale comes with a nice cult following, as you all know.” That’s Mark Pedowitz, chief at CW, speaking about it. Heaven forbid they have to come up with an original idea to gain a cult following.

Anyway, having read through the concept for each of the programs I have to say, it sounds like the networks have found a new bandwagon to jump on. For ages there we had the recent resurgence vampire craze, which spawned about a million different things, the most successful of which were The Vampire Diaries and True Blood. We’ve also had a bit of zombie love filling up the airways with The Walking DeadGame of the Thrones has killed it every which way. So, where to? Well, apparently what we’re all lacking in our day to day is a bit of the ol’ ultraviolence, me lovelies. We want gutsy extreme survival with a bit of blood thrown in for good measure.

This is the kind of creepy-ass shit I wanna see on my TV... Or not.

This is the kind of creepy-ass shit I wanna see on my TV… Or not.

There’s something about the network commissioning these shows that, to me, smacks of irony.These books both show total government control. Battle Royale in particular can be read both as a rollicking piece of pulp fiction and a critique of governmental power taken to its absolute extreme. Both the book and the film were shrouded in controversy on their release, with various government bodies threatening censorship of the more extreme content. Similarly, both Battle Royale and The Hunger Games show the television as a way of controlling a population. Obviously, it’s a much more prominent trope in The Hunger Games where the games are broadcast as a television program, but it exists in the Japanese story as well, with the main character having flashbacks of seeing a female winner of the battle brought before the cameras, covered in blood and cackling.

So, to me (and feel free to stop me if you think differently), with these books and films presenting the kind of commentary that they do, the idea of adapting them for reality television especially seems to have totally missed the point. Kind of like the way Big Brother did when it was first released, having taken the entirety of its concept from something that was essentially a critique of its own existence. I think it’s all a bit ridiculous. What about you? Would you watch The Hunt? Or would you be part of Pedowitz’ ready-made cult audience for a Battle Royale adaptation?

Twitter Wars: Battle of the Boy Bands

Is there anything scary about boy bands? Aside from their chart-crushing popularity, not really. They’re specifically designed and marketed to be sexually non-threatening, but with just a hint of cheekiness so that the tweens get hot under the collar and a little bit giggly whenever they come around. They’re an excellent product. Problematically, a lot of them take themselves a little too seriously, which is why you end up with scenarios like the following. Last week, One Direction member Zayn Malik got into a little Twitter tiff with rival boy band member Max George, of The Wanted.

Malik was obviously having a bad hair day (or whatever it is that makes boy band members grumpy) and called George a ‘geek’. Oh…snap? I guess? Whatever. What followed was the Twitter equivalent of a pair of 12 year olds battling to be the biggest, baddest boy in the playground. Take a look:

1

2

3

Things stepped up a knotch when Max George’s band mate, Thomas Parker decided to insult Malik’s hair. In the world of boy bands, hair is serious business. One need look no further than the luscious, early-2000s stylings of NSync’s JC Chasez to know that a lot of time, effort and mousse goes into having the perfect quoiffe. It is not something to be trifled with. So being compared to a skunk is like, so uncool man. 4

6

Finally, after accusations of sexually transmitted disease and (gasp) weed-smoking, like the pre-pubescent boys they are, the pair then threatened each other to a fight (minus the burly security men who protect them round the clock).

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In short, it was all a bit of a fart in a bath and neither party came away looking half as tough as they had originally intended.

I pay a lot of attention to boy bands because a significant part of my brain never really grew out of enjoying appallingly cheesy pop music, and because their existence represents a really interesting marker on the pop cultural landscape in terms of teen girls, their sexual identities and their buying power as a target market. (Hi, my name is Alex and I minored in Gender and Cultural Studies. Can you tell?) Having said that, I still had no idea who The Wanted were until I started writing this post. Apparently they’re an English/ Irish band who were big in Canada before hitting the big time by being big in both Canada AND the US and having a UK #1 single or something. I went forth and watched a video. It was pretty bad. I thought I’d share.

I wasn’t really sure where to start with the visuals of that clip, but I think that the main reason that I haven’t paid any attention to this band before is that they’re the wrong set of stereotypes for a boy band. Boy bands are all about stereotypes, to give the consumer something to latch onto. You’ve got your bad boy, your nice guy, the funny one, the handsome/charming one (may also randomly be really into Jesus) and the one whose name no one can remember because his only real purpose is round the band number out to five because everyone knows that looks more aesthetically pleasing on stage and maybe he can dance or something, I don’t know. The Wanted has the ratios all wrong. I sat down and worked it out and this is what I came up with:

Untitled

As you can see, they clearly have too many potential knife fighters and not enough charming/funny guys. Don’t get me wrong. I am not defending One Direction in this scenario (or any scenario, really). What I am actually doing is setting the scene for One Direction and The Wanted to the Sharks and the Jets in my revamped version of Westside Story. I figure, since they’re clearly not good at being macho over the internet, they should be macho in a way that will accentuate their talents – by performing a highly choregraphed song and dance routine about gang committments, rivallry and ultimately, love. I am having a little trouble deciding which band corresponds best with which gang but picture following scene with say, 1D as the Jets and The Wanted as the Sharks.

Imagine if, instead of insulting each other’s hair over the internet, Zayn Malik and Max George resolved their conflicts as all true men should – via the magic of musical theatre. That’s a world I want to live in people. A world I want to live in. Well… that post certainly took an unexpected turn.

IMPORTANT NOTES ABOUT THIS BLOG: I am taking a much deserved holiday to a music festival down South. To save myself scrambling around the Australian bush trying to find a non-existent wifi connection the next two posts will be cancelled. Regular blogging will resume on Friday Dec 14th. In the mean time, put on some Celine Dion or something to ease the pain. You’ll be fine.

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