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Monday, 29 March 2010

American Independent Film Reviews

Click on the link below to read two of my film reviews in the Directory of World Cinema: American Independent. This handsome tome is available from Intellect UK. Free download for a limited period.
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Monday, 22 March 2010

Random Music Trivia

"Take Me Home " - Sophie Ellis-Bextor (original lyrics sung by Cher)
"She" - Charles Azanour (covered by Elvis Costello)
"(White Man) in Hammersmith Palais" - The Clash
"Mack the Knife" - Bobby Darin
"Work It Out" - Beyonce
"All I Want Is You" - U2
"It's A Mug's Game" - Soft Cell
"Fake Plastic Trees" - Radiohead

Question: What do these songs have in common?
Answer: All of them do not have choruses.

(You're welcome....)
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Thursday, 18 March 2010


Face like Angelina Jolie, voice like Amy Winehouse, tattoos like LA Ink.
Which begs the question - why isn't SoShy more famous outside France? Apart from 'Morning After Dark' with Timbaland and Nelly Furtado and two World Cup themed songs, 'Dorothy' and 'The Way I am'.
I am blogging my enthusiasm and await her debut album with utmost impatience.
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Friday, 12 March 2010

Celluloid Rehab

Famed, lie low
that's the best choice for us
Seeking escape at the movies.
For a little more
take a hike, or a cruise
Until you get stuck in the popcorn pit of deja-vu.
A well worn shoe
that has stepped on many a bollock.

Entertainment prices become
Fines; penalties paid for your observance of the law.
You want more
Than your wallets can grant.

Before you become an old man,
Gone is the first bloom of youth
When you are stuck in the same gear and pushing your pen.
Railing against stone deadlines.
You want to forget about
Bringing home the bacon.

Cast off your leg-irons!
Become a free man!
Stop living in your Ikea-furnished cage and
Bail out! Out of your depth
Life doesn't stop when it becomes stiller.

Drive your Ford to the woods
(Using diesel, of course)
The jolly robins are skipping in the green and black.
A crow and a fox perches on your sun roof.
Isn't a real panaroma better than widescreen?

(There are 31 actors' and actresses' surnames in this poem, including one full name anagram in the first verse. Can you spot them?)
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Saturday, 6 March 2010

This Is Really Not A Love Song.

Bruce Springsteen sang in 'No Retreat No Surrender'  that you can learn more from a three minute record than you can ever learn in school. Track down that old form teacher who confiscated your walkman/ discman/ mp3 player and show him/her the following list! Who said popular songs are all vacuous fluff and confection?

1. 'Being Boiled' (1981) The Human League
Phil Oakey and company stand up for animal rights and protests against the mass exploitation of silkworms.
Vocabulary enriching lyric: "sericulture" (The cultivation of silkworms for silk)

2. 'Free Your Mind' (1992) En Vogue
Don't judge by appearances! Down with damaging stereotypes! These four ladies rap and roar their polemic, although their leather and lace costumes in the video does dent their credibility.
Vocabulary enriching lyric: "synecdoche"  (Using a small part, such as an individual, to judge a whole group, i.e race or culture in the case of this song)

3. "Remembrance Day" (1987) Bryan Adams
Everything he does is not just MOR rock and aweshucks love balladry. Here's a restrained tribute to the role of Canadian soldiers in World War I.
Interesting Fact written into song lyrics: "By October 1918, Cambrai had fallen"  Surely the only reference to the 1918 Hundred Days Offensive by the Allied Powers, in rock music?

4. "Wuthering Heights" (1979) Kate Bush
It doesn't get more literary than this tune. The haunting refrain of 'Heathcliff! Its me, Cathy! I've come home, let me into your window!" evokes and distills the essence of Emily Bronte's classic novel more effectively than a dozen Yorknotes study guides.

5. "One Week" (1998) Barenaked Ladies
There has to be one pop-culture referencing song on this list. Jason Mraz has based his entire career around this song and with good reason, the references fly in, in a relentless stream:, Alfred Hitchcock and Akira Kurosawa, Harrison Ford and Aquaman are namechecked.

6. "Enola Gay" (1984) Orchestral Manoevres in the Dark
More history, now its World War 2, or to be more specific, the end of WW2. OMD sing about the plane that dropped the atom bomb on Hiroshima.
Interesting fact worked into song title: The name of the plane! Genius!

7. "Invisible Sun" (1981) The Police
A dark song about the political tensions in Northern Ireland, but not difficult to listen to. Banned by the BBC upon release - how rock and roll is that?
Vocabulary enriching lyric: 'armalite'. aka the AR-18 assault rifle.

8. "Cemetry Gates" (1987) The Smiths
Smart lyrics from Morissey, the Ocasr Wilde-o-phile. Apparantly about poetry battles and questions of attribution that take place in the titular graveyard.
Educational advice written into lyrics : A warning against plagiarism: "Always someone somewhere, with a big nose  who knows!"

9. "Once In a Lifetime" (1980) Talking Heads
You may have first heard this song used in the trailer for 'The Truman Show' It combines existentialism and fears of looming mid-life crisis with a beautiful chorus that, once heard, may never leave your brain.
Educational note on music video: Incorporates footage of tribal dancing and sign language (and I'm not referring to David Byrne's dancing and hand gestures..)

10. "MLK" (1984) U2
"Pride In the Name of Love" maybe the more obvious song about Martin Luther King, but 'MLK" is the shorter and more subtle piece.

Do you have any examples of smart pop(ular) songs? Post them in Comments please.

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