Saturday, 10 December 2011

Cher Lloyd - Sticks & Stones, a short review

Cher Lloyd was probably the most interesting contestant on last years' UK X Factor. She exposed the absurdity of the whole overblown TV variety by totally messing up at the judges' houses stage of the competition but still having enough charisma there was no other way but to put her through to the live finals where this highly polarising contestant (I think pretty much all of my Twitter freinds hate her) finished 4th. I think it's safe to say that so far she's the most successful of last year's XF alumni...if she'll stay that way is the question, though.

Her debut album offers a mixed answer. There's much less rap than I expected (I quite respected Cher on the competition but musically she wasn't quite my thing), it's very poppy and you can find a couple of good pop songs on it...ones that make me think if Lily Allen wrote lyrics to them they might be perfect.

Then there is the UK no. 1 Swagger Jagger. Or rather My Darling Clemetine. Why oh why. Swagger Jagger with a different chorus could have been a great song, probably the best on the album. Oh well.

The highlights of the album include Want U Back, which reminds me a bit of P!nk's M!ssundaztood the way it uses Cher's grunts; the 2nd single With Ur Love a cute pop song which would definitely benefit if the creepy "rap" by Mike Posner was not featured; the catchy, Simms-sampling Superhero and Over the Moon, a song in which the cutesy pop and Cher's rapping are at a good ratio.

Beautiful People leaves me a bit cold, just an uninspiring sacharine ballad the album could have done without. I'd rather listen to Pet Shop Boys' song of the same title. Grow Up and End Up There are alright but not "quite there". Dub On the Track won't let you go once it grips you but I'd put it in the "annoying" box together with Swagger Jagger.

And finally there is the horrible, uninspired Playa Boi, an updated version of Neneh Cherry's Buffalo Stance. Gangster stance? No, than you.

Still I hope this one sticks around at least long enough to record a 2nd album and also to piss off all who would rather she never existed. ;o)

Sunday, 30 October 2011

The X Factor UK, overview & review of Live Show 4, Halloween.

Once in a while I'll write a "review" of a singing competition, and for this year's X Factor the time is now.

Last week was a bit of a snoozefest. A couple of stand-out performances but very little of the performers could claim this had been their best performance yet.

In comparison, this week was pretty much solid. Again, no-one in particular stood out but I'd say 80% of the performances were really good. Halloween theme worked its magic...

Let's get this started, then!

The Risk:
I never register boybands in these competitions, well…I don’t register boybands, period. I loved the Spice Girls – they had good, energetic pop songs (& one gorgeous ballad) & great attitude. I loved Sugababes because they sounded good & their songs had something...extra...for a lack of a better word. I completely hated boybands when I was a teen. Boys should have guitars or pianos, not dance around like headless chicken while singing sirupy ballads. My hatred has turned into indifference. I quite like Take That’s last album, but I only bought it because I like Robbie.
I actually liked The Risk’s first performance, four classy looking young men – why not, takes me back to the vocal groups of the first half of the 20th century. But they’ve faded away since then. The vocals didn’t imrove – and I don’t think adding a boy from No Vibe is exactly a good cure for this problem. (edit: Okay, I admit they actually sounded better than last week so maybe it was not a bad idea.)
Also, I’m not fond of Thriller. I suspect the song was so succesful only because of the then-novel video. Aiden Grimshaw at least made it interesting last year but The Risk made it even more boring.

Final verdict: MEH!

Where do I start. Johnny is sweet, cheeky, funny & I suspect half-deaf. He sings like a soprano girl and in his spare time he’s a drag queen. No problem with that. So why is he my guilty pleasure instead of just pleasure? Why do I always grin, half embarrassed for him, when he’s onstage? He’s a good singer. He’s an adorkable performer… and he’s a GUILTY pleasure for most. That’s not fair & the recent performance just confirms it. If he puts on a show & sings well, he’s a guilty pleasure. If he just sings, with a tasteful visual production behind him, he’s amazing.

My notes while I was watching:
How many sex-with-Gary puns can Johnny put in one VT? I literally laughed my arse off watching it. Had to pause several times.
Johnny’s best vocal yet? I was waiting for this for a month. Finally!
Johnny looked like he was gonna come when Gaz came to him on the stage. The fire was burning…oh…love, you ole devil.

Final verdict: YAY!

I adore her voice. I have no problem with her personality, just her ability to stay in tune (exacly what I HATED about Rebecca last year, only R. was way more pimped than Sophie – that makes me like Sophie more, as a result.)
I love the song choice but Sophie didn’t give it enough drama. I can only guess what Haley Reinhart would’ve made with it:

Final verdict: Could be better.

This is where this blog entry gets all fangirly. I love Marcus to bits. I gave him a nickname: Smiley. I wanna adopt him as my slightly younger bro (actually had we grown up in the same city we might have ended up in the same class together at school). He’s adorable, lovable and the fact he’s afrom Liverpool doesn’t definitely hurt him in my book. Massive Beatlemaniac, I visited Liverpool last year & fell in love.
As for Marcus’s singing ability...before I noticed how absolutely adorbale he is I noticed him for his vocals at the judges houses stage of the competition. While most of the other boys sounded like castratos on helium he actually had a deep, warm, manly vocal. I don’t love his voice but I like it. I like that he’s a versatile performer – which he showed last week when he totally nailed Are You Gonna Go My Way. /TBH this song used to be my sex song. Now whenever it comes on my iPod I go: awwww. So Marcus kinda spoilt it for me in a sense but I don’t mind./
What I liked about the Halloween performance: he went all-out, a zombie panda look. Great choreography, pretty good dancing. It unfortunately took a toll on his singing which wasn’t as clean as it could’ve been but hey, it looked Halloween-ish & it was fun.

Most of all I love the song choice. Had he sang only plain Superstition it would’ve been hilarious, given the theme, but since he LURVES Stevie it would’ve been too predictable. But the fact the song got mashed up with a kick-ass INXS song...wonderful. While I don’t care for Stevie, I love INXS biggest hits - it could’ve been a disaster but no, this marriage worked out just fine.

Final verdict: YAY!, watch out for the vocals tho, babe!

Misha B:
I like Misha B. Even if her visual style reeks of GaGa too much (but when a girl dresses outrageously these days, she’ll always get compared to GaGa, so the best thing to do, is to fuck it, really). She could easily be in the same league as the biggest female artists these days + she usually also gives good vocals. I don’t care about the backstage shenanigans, so no comment on that.
Tainted Love was a great song choice, good production & choreography, Misha sounded like Misha thruout. Fun, exciting and anyone who wears a horn growing from a vagina on their head should get a medal.

Final verdict: YAY!

I like her as a person. She seems introverted and shy but she can be hard as nails. My kinda woman. He vocal tho...sweet but it’s just not my thing. Plus, just like Sophie she has „slight tuning problems“ as Popjustice puts it. Generally I like her performances (esp. Sweet Child) but they are nothing that would make me exstatic the way Haley Reinhart does:

What did they do with Janet's hair this time?! Poor thing will be bald when she’s finished with this competition. :) Nice set production, more or less approve of the arrangement of the song. But she had a real problem singing the low notes. My ears say ouch!

Final verdict: Okay.

Even in the days of his dardest partying days, Rob’s always been a witty, loveable, if polarising guy with some real talent for music and entertainment. (I personally thought he was a dick until I heard the Royal Albert Hall concert on the radio. My mum was a fan of his before I was.) When my mum saw Frankie she classified him a tuneless fake. When I saw Frankie for the first time I definitely saw the Robbie vibe and thought he was at least witty, even though voice-less.
The magic’s gone. On one hand I’m REALLY happy Gaz stopped trying to sell Frankie as a serious artist. This man sounds best singing punk rock songs, him strangling himself on a sad alternative singer songwriter ballad was a bad decision. So this is now corrected. But is every VT from last week on gonna be about him being a party animal? BORED. Gimme the witty Frankie. I’m now starting to think he never existed.
Should I Stay is a great song and a good song choice for him.
But Tony did it so much better.

Final verdict: Okmeh.

Not sure what it is about her, just like a lot of people I still don’t like her. But over the time she’s won me over as a performer. I’m not sure about a future for her outside of this show but I like watching her. She’s never boring. Shhhhhh. Shhhhhh.

"I don’t wanna say 'This is The New Me' next week coz that's irritating."

Sweet Dreams. A great song, a great song choice and Kitty was vocally spot-on this week. Production-wise it was on par with Misha’s performance. Props for the scar.

Final verdict: YAY!

Little Mix:
They ARE better than the other girl bands I saw on XF so far. They have a lot of room for vocal & dance improvement but I like em. Little Mix tho?
Those who call one of them fat and ugly should perform seppuku on themselves, coz that’s not cool. Besides her face has an unusual but rare beauty and she really is not fat.
This week they finally wore nice clothes. WIN! The vocals have come together in the end, really cool choreography but what I really loved: hair & make-up. Hands down the best of the night. Good job, stylists!

Final verdict: Almost YAY!

Lovely voice, lovely guy. Not my thing music-wise but I had his Jar of Hearts stuck in my head for weeks. And I didn’t mind.
Isn’t Set Fire… basically a slightly sped-up ballad? Not that I mind but Gaz should shut up.
This was a great performance. Alexandra had a good point: Craig projects well. That’s the difference between him & Sophie. Both great voices but you can feel what Craig is feeling when he sings. In Gaz’s voice: "well donn, Craig!"

Final verdict: YAY!

This was a good evening. The Halloween theme ensured some interesting visual stuff and the rest wasn't too bad either...

Saturday, 3 September 2011

Torchwood: Miracle Day; review of episodes 8 & 9 (possible spoilers for UK people)

Can someone tell me how many species live inside the Earth? Have the Silurians met the Blessing?

Torchwood: Mircale Day starts making more and more sense but every new episode keeps undermining its predecessors. The latest two episodes being no exeption.

I liked both episodes 8 and 9 but at the same time neither of them made me completely satisfied. I was a bit mad that the Angelo storyline went more or less nowhere. On the other hand, its resolution in End of the Road allowed John Barrowman's acting to shine. The scene at Angelo's bedside was great - and it's thanks to the script as much as John's acting. And I'm usually not a fan of John trying to do "staright", dramatic acting.

I tend not to notice plot holes unless they're the size of Jupiter but if there was one thing that bugged me about episode 8, it was the fact Jack told everyone that the morphic field thing should not be touched; yet he and what was left of his team spent about 5 minutes there, giving it a good fondling while plotting what to do next, and the agents didn't bat an eyelid. Quite amusing when you think about it.

At this point I'd like to give a shoutout to John de Lancie, playing the head of the CIA. I hope we won't get a last minute shocker of him being part of the Family business. His character is wonderfully arrogant and wisecrack-prone but definitely gives the air of being the right man for his job.

Episode 9 was quite good but just like in the case of its predecessor something pissed me off about it - "2 months later". Really?
The Gathering had 2 high points for me. Gwen & her mum being made to let go of Gwen's father (I'd side with the government here) was its serious point. I liked that this scene didn't dissolve into pathos but it was poignant enough - after all this time of not really caring about this storyline I finally felt connected to the Coopers.
The other high point of the 9th episode was Oswald Danes's "Woah. Woah. Woah. Woah." once he saw a drop of Jack's blood sliding towards the Blessing. It kind of underlined the ridiculousness of the whole thing for me. So I looked into the Blessing....was I supposed to be floored by the sight? Or by the reveal itself? It all kinda resulted into "meh." for me. If the final episode of Torchwood doesn't bring something exeptionally thought-provoking or...I dunno...WOW...I'm gonna feel this whole series was a wasted opportunity.

I didn't enjoy Children of Earth but that series made sense and was thought-provoking and from I remember (watched it only once) pretty well made.
Miracle Day feels a like the inhabitants of the Junk-yard planet from The Doctor's Wife. The parts are OK but their sum doesn't quite add up. Stuff is hanging out, other parts missing. Actually, there's just a lot of spare stuff hanging out, really.

P.S. Just realized that while writing this review(-ish thing) I was listening to the soundtrack to The Da Vinci Code. How appropriate considering Miracle Day has practically boiled down to family and (Jack's) blood...

Monday, 22 August 2011

Torchwood: Miracle Day; Immortal Sins (Episode 7) Review

Torchwood: Miracle Day keeps baffling me with each new epsiode. It makes me realize that even tho I enjoyed all previous 6 episodes of the latest Torchwood season, at least half of them were just useless. The character of Oswald Danes only a cheap, faux-controversial prop (which makes sense but is completely redundant), the overflow camps only a ploy to make us all feel sick from the state of the humanity. Do we really need that? We have news.

It turns out, that what Torchwood really boils down to, is a romance gone wrong. A Lover Spurned, as Marc Almond sings. Only Jack is only learning his lesson now. WE ARE ALL ANGELS Faux-controversial Prop said a while ago, to the thundering applause of the brainless masses - episode 7 finally let us meet the Angel, the maker of The Miracle: Angelo Colesanto, the Angel and all his saints. What a sweet innocent creature. He wanted to see the big world. Instead he met Jack, and it fucked him up. And in 84 years time he'll somehow fuck up the world. And Jack.

I liked this episode for the most part. I could've done without another depiction of the inherent cruelty of the Human race. Torchwood might be fighting the aliens but somehow it insists on telling us we might be even worse that the aliens we fight. But other than that, I liked the episode. I liked Jack and Gwen turning on each other, each fighting to survive. I liked seeing Rex and Esther act like a true Torchwood team. I liked seeing Nana Visitor.
And I sure as hell enjoyed me some man-on-man romance (could've done without the gay marriage PSA in church, tho). But most of all I loved seeing a period of more than several days covered in one episode...felt SO refreshing!

Time for some speculation. How did the Miracle happen? We're getting close to uncovering it. What scares me is that we still have 3 episodes left. At this point I'd prefer to have only one juicy, eventful episode left to watch. An episode, in which we'd find the remaining pieces of the puzzle, and which would send the Miracle straight to Hell.

Anyway. How did the Miracle happen? Agelo was no scientist, he must have had some help. Probably from the three suit-y guys (the name of the group now escapes me, bad Whovian!). Did he do it because he wanted to like Jack and live with him forever after (even though Jack seemed he was pretty done with the Angel after he left Jack die a hundred times at the hands of the Little Italia residents)? Or did he do it because he wanted to make Jack mortal? Were his intentions originally good? Or was he a lover spurned and wanted revenge on his ex?

See, this is what a truly good single episode can do you. It can make you genuinely care for the story. It raises questions. It makes you relize that the previous episodes only put you to sleep compared to this. Since 7 is my number I wonder if this was the high point of the series for me. Could it get better than Immortal Sins? Oh yes, it could. Episode 7 was not flawless. Will it get better? Now, that is the question.

P.S. Read Heather Hogan's recap of this episode. ;)

Saturday, 13 August 2011

Torchwood: Miracle Day; review of episodes 1-6 (possible spoilers for UK people)

First of all I should say I'm not a huge fan of big season(s)-encompassing story arcs. I like seeing character development, yes, but I'm frankly tired of every season of Doctor Who having a Bad Wolf or cracks. I'd be totally happy with stand-alone episodes w/ no bigger season-long mystery. Alas that is not what this age is about.

My favourite season of Torchwood was the second one, w/ Tosh & Owen being my favourite characters. I especially loved Owen after he died for the first time, I wish he could have stayed that way forever. He'd have made a great spy (cue Burn Gorman's character on The Hour).

The Afterelton/Afterellen recapper Heather Hogan sometimes includes Infinity and Beyond scenarios in her hilarious Torchwood recaps and those definitely make you realize that you in fact don't wanna watch Miracle Day but you wanna see Ianto, Tosh, Owen & newly Vera fuck about the Cradiff hubb & chase aliens. Watching Rex, Gwen, Esther & Jack is interesting, yes, but I, personally, just don't find much joy in it. Bar Gwen's occasional moments of badassery.

At this point I'm not sure which role will Oswald Danes play in the whole story. So far he's only involved in a hopefully improbable storyline about people being all into a child rapist after he said WE ARE ANGELS. Is his character more than a cheap shot at being conroversial, on the part of the writers?

And why is Jack only guest-starring in his own show? So far he realized he was mortal, kept stalking Danes, had his scene stolen by a PhiCorp middle man & had sex (and a proper hangover). Episode 7 promises to include more of his part of the story but won't it be too little too late? On the other hand I'll rather watch that than my dear John Barrowman desperately trying to be all emotional (What have they done to you, my poor friend?) which just isn't his forté as an actor.

Gwen is definitely at her all-time lowest quotient of annoying. She's quite badass on Miracle Day. Maybe RTD is waiting for us to start liking her & now he will kill her off? Nah, I sadly think Rhys - aka The 2nd Best Husband In The History of Mankind Right After Mr. Pond - is much more likely to joing Infinity and Beyond.

As for the new members of the Torchwood team. Well I think we all loved Vera. Of course she was killed off the worst way possible. Rex is an arrogant stupid asshole, still I don't care enough about him to hate him. That privilege I'll save for the Sleaze director of the American concentration overflow camp. I don't give a FUCK about him being scared or whatever. That man is exactly what is wrong with this world. Powerful Evil People would have no power if it weren't for scared, cruel cowards like him. I'm sorry, but this guy gets no compassion from me. Evil, vile, sadistic scared little man.

Esther is proving to be the most interesting character so far. Who didn't cheer when she strangled the crap out of Mr. Evil Sleaze? Now she'll even make a better man out of Rex.

The characters are more or less the reason I keep watching. To be honest I'm not really that interested about the story itself. It drags on. At the current lenght of the episodes, 5 episodes would be enough for this story, I think. The theme of governments being ready to sacrifice anything as long as the problem goes away has been thoroughly explored in the 3rd season. Been there, done that, move on.

I have to admit that though slow I still think the episodes are quite well written. All of the main actors are good...If there is a problem this season it's the direction and ...well for me, the concept itself. On the other hand, Miracle Day is still a damn good telly. It's not the old Torchwood, it's definitely more American but it's still good enough.

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Movie Meme

As seen on Cultural Snow's blog & originally (?) posted on Bookcrossing here's my Movie Meme:

1. Movie you love with a passion.

Breakfast on Pluto.

2. Movie you vow to never watch.

A Clockwork Orange. I read the book. It's great. But I really, really, really don't wanna watch the film. At all.

3. Movie that literally left you speechless.

Das Leben der Anderen.

4. Movie you always recommend.

After I watch a film I like I keep recommending it to anyone who'll listen but there isn't one specific film that I keep recommending to people.

5. Actor/actress you always watch, no matter how crappy the movie.

I'd say Johnny Depp but has he really done a crappy film yet? I'd say Hugh Grant but I haven't seen the last one. Ditto for Tom Hanks.

6. Actor/actress you don’t get the appeal for.

Robert De Niro. Yeah, he's good. But does he, in my opinion, deserve all that worship? Nope.

7. Actor/actress, living or dead, you’d love to meet.

Jimmy Stewart. I'm sure he'd be nice.

8. Sexiest actor/actress you’ve seen (+ picture).

One person? If I started to write the list now, I wouldn't be done by the end of the world (which is like in a couple of months but anyway...).



Yes, I am actually taking this very seriously.

9. Dream cast.

The TV Brideshead Revisited is pretty much the dream cast for the characters the way I imagined them while reading the novel. Three fucking times. No, am still not catholic. Not even getting there.

As films go...Love Actually has a pretty dreamy cast.

10. Favorite actor pairing.

All of the pairings I can think of are in the land of TV....
Yet in the land of film I just can only think of Fred Astaire & Ginger Rogers. They were not only wonderfully compatible as dancers but as actors as well. You could see it right the first time they were together, in their few scenes in Flying down to Rio.

11. Favorite movie setting.

Anywhere that isn't real, preferably in history. or in Space. or England. or ancient Rome. or ancient Rome in England.

12. Favorite decade for movies

I don't have one. If I had to choose I'd go for 1930's.

13. Chick flick or action movie?


14. Hero, villain or anti-hero?

Anti-hero or The Queen.

15. Black and white or color?


Wednesday, 3 August 2011

My Favourite Lyrics Part 1; Love Songs

A couple of days ago I decided to start writing about my favourite song lyrics. Song lyrics is my favourite kind of poetry. Also it's thanks to them that I'm able to write this blog in English, however flawed it might be. All those free afternoons I spent translating lyrics by The Beatles, David Bowie & Kate Bush! These guys were my best English teachers. :o)

I wanna start with some love songs. Just because I'm not really a fan of love songs per se, so it's not so hard to choose these. In my opinion, if I love a love song & its lyrics it means that the song is really fucking good! :o)

My Funny Velentine

My funny Valentine
Sweet comic Valentine
You make me smile with my heart
Your looks are laughable
Yet you're my favourite work of art

Is your figure less than Greek
Is your mouth a little weak
When you open it to speak
Are you smart?

But don't change a hair for me
Not if you care for me
Stay little Valentine stay
Each day is Valentine's day

I copied the whole text of the song here because it really is a work of art. Quirky humorous & tender lyrics - combined with a very melancholy melody - how very smart and how very beautiful. The lyrics of the song were written by Lorenz Hart in 1937 (he died only 6 years later, aged 48) in my opinion are just as much behind the success of the song as the melody written by Richard Rodgers. Hart's simple message: I know you're not perfect but that's exactly why I love you, is sentimental and touching enough but not smaltzy, almost 80 years after it was written people still connect to it. Even people like me.

Many artists have recorded this song and even more have at least sung it at one point but my favourite version is probably Nico's, from her last studio album Camera Obscura which came out in 1985.

Your Song

It's a little bit funny this feeling inside
I'm not one of those who can easily hide
I don't have much money but boy if I did
I'd buy a big house where we both could live

If I was a sculptor, but then again, no
Or a man who makes potions in a travelling show
I know it's not much but it's the best I can do
My gift is my song and this one's for you

And you can tell everybody this is your song
It may be quite simple but now that it's done
I hope you don't mind
I hope you don't mind that I put down in words
How wonderful life is while you're in the world

I sat on the roof and kicked off the moss
Well a few of the verses well they've got me quite cross
But the sun's been quite kind while I wrote this song
It's for people like you that keep it turned on

So excuse me forgetting but these things I do
You see I've forgotten if they're green or they're blue
Anyway the thing is what I really mean
Yours are the sweetest eyes I've ever seen

And you can tell everybody this is your song
It may be quite simple but now that it's done
I hope you don't mind
I hope you don't mind that I put down in words
How wonderful life is while you're in the world

I hope you don't mind
I hope you don't mind that I put down in words
How wonderful life is while you're in the world

Another classic that necessitated for its lyrics to be copied in full. What can I say. Bernie Taupin is a fucking genius. Your Song follows a bit in the path of My Funny Veltine: it's almost as if one of the lovers sang My Funny Valentine and the other one replied in the form of Your Song. It's an evolution: less wit, more awkwardness and a lot of "I'm not worthy but I'd do anything I could for you" feeling mixed in. One says that the partner's looks are unphotographable and the other one doesn't even know the partner's eye colour. What a couple! :o)

Maybe I'm Amazed

Maybe I'm amazed at the way you love me all the time
Maybe I'm afraid of the way I love you
Maybe I'm amazed at the way you pulled me out of time
And hung me on a line

Maybe I'm amazed at the way I really need you
Baby I'm a man maybe I'm a lonely man
Who's in the middle of something
That he doesn't really understand

Baby I'm a man and maybe you're the only woman
Who could ever help me
Baby won't you help me understand

Baby I'm a man, maybe I'm a lonely man
Who's in the middle of something
That he doesn't really understand

Baby I'm a man and maybe you're the only woman
Who could ever help me
Baby won't you help me understand

Maybe I'm amazed at the way you're with me all the time
Maybe I'm afraid of the way I leave you
Maybe I'm amazed at the way you help me sing my song
Right me when I'm wrong
Maybe I’m amazed at the way I really need you

I'd known this song for years before I heard Crystal Bowersox sing it on American Idol last year. I never rated this song that high, it took a woman to make me realize how earnest, straight from the gut/heart this song was. Macca can be a great lyricist just as he can be a mere pale imitation of the best lyricists of the 20's/30's/40's swing songs he grew up listening to. The thing is he just doesn't have the quick wit of Cole Porter and the like but when he writes from the heart the results can be surprisingly brilliant.

I'll Be Your Mirror

I'll be your mirror
Reflect what you are, in case you don't know
I'll be the wind, the rain and the sunset
The light on your door to show that you're home

When you think the night has seen your mind
That inside you're twisted and unkind
Let me stand to show that you are blind
Please put down your hands
'Cause I see you

I find it hard to believe you don't know
The beauty you are
But if you don't let me be your eyes
A hand in your darkness, so you won't be afraid

When you think the night has seen your mind
That inside you're twisted and unkind
Let me stand to show that you are blind
Please put down your hands
'Cause I see you

I'll be your mirror
(reflect what you are

The lyrics to this song show you just how tender Lou Reed can be. Nothing more needs to be said, really.

The Art Teacher

There I was in uniform
Looking at the art teacher
I was just a girl then;
Never have I loved since then

He was not that much older than I was
He had taken our class to the Metropolitan Museum
He asked us what our favorite work of art was,
But never could I tell him it was him
Oh, I wish I could tell him --
Oh, I wish I could have told him

I looked at the Rubens and Rembrandts
I liked the John Singer Sargents
He told me he liked Turner
And never have I turned since then
No, never have I turned to any other man

All this having been said,
I married an executive company head
All this having been done, a Turner - I own one
Here I am in this uniformish, pant-suit sort of thing,
Thinking of the art teacher
I was just a girl then;
Never have I loved since then
No, never have I loved any other man

Well this Rufus Wainwright song is not a typical "I'm talking to you" love song but I think it qualifies as one of the most interesting love lyrics I've ever heard/read. All of the above songs probably refer to intense emotions of "I fucking love you and wanna fuck you and marry you and be with you for ever and ever." but Rufus found a different point of view: an unrequited love of a married woman who looks back at her youth and realizes she hasn't really loved anyone as much as her teen self loved her art teacher. Wow? Wow.

They Can't Take That Away from Me

The way you wear your hat
The way you sip your tea
The memory of all that
No they can't take that from me.

The way your smile just beams
The way you sing off key
The way you haunt my dreams
No they can't take that from me.

We may never meet again
On the bumpy road of love.
Still I'll always keep the memory of...

No they can't take that away,
No they can't take that away.

This song written by George and Ira Gershwin probably doesn't have one of the smartest lyrics ever but it just holds a special place in my heart. The scene in the musical called Shall We Dance, in which Fred Astaire first itroduced the song, is wonderful and certainly memorable. Before I saw this film I mostly knew Frank Sinatra's version of this song, which has more swagger but Fred's simple style of singing made me pay close attention to the equaly simple but powerful lyrics. This might be ending but what we've had, no-one can take that away from us.

next time: Breakup songs. Expect loads of ABBA. :o)

Sunday, 31 July 2011

Jane Eyre, The 2011 Film "Review"

I haven't read Jane Eyre, I haven't seen any film or TV adaptation but I have listened to a radio adaptation when I was a child. It scarred me for life. I found the story dark and humourless, basically everything Jane Austen's books aren't. I don't remember much more from that radio play, but I can still see the images my mind has created to accompany it. I see an insane woman stuck in a room, I see the horror of the burned down house and I see Jane & blind Edward reuniting under a tree.
If Michael Fassbender weren't in this film I simply wouldn't have gone see it. The reason I did go to the cinema to watch this film was this actor I recently discovered in the X-Men prequel and because it was the sort of film my mum would probably like to see (she's into all kinds of "romantic shit" unlike me) & therefore a chance for me to take her out a bit. Mia Wasikowska seemed like a good choice to play Jane and reviews of the film were generally good so I gave the film a chance.
This film is literally dark. This time, being a grown woman (almost 5 years older than the heroine of the story) I didn't feel as upset by the story, I didn't find it that dark, but the visuals of the film are what makes it a very gloomy affair. But it also makes the film a work of art, gives it an authenticity and also manages to make you pay close attention. There's not too much dialog. You have to read between the lines and take a good look at the faces illuminated by candlelight.
I have to confess I felt the ending was a bit abrupt, but more because I had a weird feeling the novel went on for a bit longer (it did) than because I'd feel that it didn't fit the style of the adaptation well. Not at all, in the context of the narration this film followed it was the best possible ending.
Mia Wasikowska is simply amazing as Jane. Michael Fassbender makes one sexy Rochester. Some say they are too pretty as neither of the characters are described as attractive in the novel. Well I for one don't complain.
Judi Dench is a glimmer of light in this otherwise dark dark affair. I love her. I wonder if she ever gave a not great performance...
Recognizing the two sisters of St. John as Lucrezia Borgia and Catherine Howard made me realize what a history buff/TV junkie I am. Jamie Bell seemed like an adequate St. John to me. Apparently he's supposed to be tall, blond w/ ancient Greek/Roman features accroding to the novel. Well poor Jamie Bell definitely doesn't fit that description but his acting was fine. Reading about what St. John is supposed to look immediately made me think of my other recent Marvel discovery: Tom Hiddleston. He seems to have quite a few fans in common w/ Michael Fassbender which would make this film adaptation of Jane Eyre a droolfest. I suppose it's better that he is not in this film, after all. :o)
I love the way this film was made and I loved the acting. The story brings a strong female character set in a time and place these were pretty rare. Still I can't rate this film w/ a 5/5 or 10/10. It's not my reason's rating, it's my heart's and my heart just is not in this story. Just like it isn't in the story of Wuthering Heights.
My heart can by found resting on a Penguin copy of Persuasion, written by Jane Austen. That dead wretch is clutching it in her hands and won't let go.
If by any chance Cary Fukunaga ever decides to adapt this novel, I'd trust he'll do a great job with it, just like he did with Jane Eyre.


P.S. Even I, not just my mother w/ her love for long haired beardy men, have to admit Michael Fassbender looks mighty fine in long hair and a bit of beard.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

What I Wish I'd Written about "Born This Way"

I've ended up never writing that song by song review of Lady GaGa's latest album. But I've just seen a Guardian user called "lotusblue" had written the following - and I pretty much agree w/ him.

Lady Gaga is someone pop needs badly. She makes great big slabs of mega dance pop and she knows what the hell she is doing. She polarises opinion and looks as barmy as a teapot from Mars. As all good pop stars should.
However, her latest album, goes too much in the direction of 18-30 nightmare club music for my liking. I know it is not aimed at me - a man old enough to know better - but I still think I know when an artist has peaked. This is it: the big commercial outing, an artist on top of her game. But the feeling is hollow. I predict that Lady Gaga will ditch the big beats on her next album and turn into Kate Bush. At least that is my fantasy.
'Born this way' just smacks too much of self concious anthemising. Like a wannabe Madonna - who did something similar with 'Express yourself'.
Gaga has turned into a kind of Bono in drag.HERE IS MY BIG MESSAGE!
'Don't be a drag just be a queen' - indeed!

Monday, 23 May 2011

Track by Track commentary : Kate Bush's "Director's Cut"

Without further's my brief commentary on Kate Bush's new album.

Flower of the Mountain doesn’t differ that much in sound but of course the lyrics are now written by James Joyce. They’re gonna take some getting used to (to be honest Kate’s own Joyce-inspired lyrics were good enough for me). The original version and this version are on about the same level for me, they’re both beautiful.
Song of Solomon definitely profits from a the reworking. It breaths better. Not 100% sure on all of the new vocals but that’s a minor niggle.
Lily. LOVE the new version. Never gonna listen to the old version again. This version feels more real and it makes me listen carefully. For some reason I never really cared what this song was about. It is – for a lack of a better word – fierce.
Deeper Understanding. I’d say I like the new version equally to the original – which is one of my favorites from The Sensual World. I don’t mind this version sounding very literal…but if I have on one complaint it’s the lenght of the track, the second half of the song sounds a bit like a leftover from Aerial (great album but a different album).
The Red Shoes is a definite improvement on the original (which I like a lot btw). This track is just so ALIVE. It’s in a trance. In plain language: it rocks.

In the case of This Woman’s Work I actually perefer the original to the new version. The new version is good too, but parts of fit just put me to sleep. Other parts „give me your…“ are quite beautiful tho.
Moments of Pleasure. Oh how many times has this song made me cry or at least misted my eyes a bit. I love the original version and I love the new version just as much. They’re diferent enough (the new one most notably keeping the chorus lyric-less) but the core of it is still a heartbreakingly beautiful song celebrating being alive. To paraphrase Neil Gaiman’s words: Alive; a big, complicated word. A word that becomes sad when it’s over.
Never Be Mine was never one of my favourite songs by Kate. Not sure this version has brought me to it either. It’s good but for me personally not on the same level as the rest of the album. Still the song definitely benefits from the new outfit.
Top of the City has always been a song I liked but man, is the new version MUCH better or what. It feels more organic & more passionate. Nails in flesh passionate. <= Definitely a good thing. :o)
And So Is Love. Another personal favourite from The Red Shoes Album. It doesn’t sound that much different to me…the feel of the record might be a bit warmer (analog vs. the original digital) & Kate’s voice is lower but I woudln’t say I prefer this version over the original one.
Rubberband Girl. Well my first reaction to this was „sounds weird…but good weird“. :o) I guess this first impression really says it all.

Favourite tracks: Lily, The Red Shoes, Moments of Pleasure, Top of the City & Rubberband Girl.