Like a French Shawshank Redemption, with more arterial blood spurts and less personal shopping.
By Slick Nick | @Poppeelings
The late 1990s were great times. I was doing my GCSEs, didn’t have to work yet and still had aspirations.
The mornings of these years, specifically in 1997, were started with a dose of the Big Breakfast television show in which the superb Kelly Brook who every day seemed to fend off the unwanted sexual attention of her co-host Johnny Vaughan, a man a few years away from joining the bald community, struggling with the weight of his own chin. She had the teets and pins that would make her a future global superstar for doing nothing of worth whatsoever, and at the time, Hanson were launched on the UK like three mini Christs, taking the charts by storm with their splendid hit single ‘MmmBop’.
Hanson really were a big deal, so much so that Canada even spawned a rip-off group with the terrible Moffats. Suddenly pubescent white males that sang and played their own instruments were ‘in’, and ‘MmmBop’ turned out to be one of the finest songs of the decade to break big. Joyful, incomprehensible, rocking, it featured on the 1997 album ‘Middle of Nowhere’ which sadly wasn’t great. Also, in asking the listener to tell them who is still gay, it was quite edgy, lyrics-wise. I wonder if the phrase mmmbop itself was some kind of allusion to anal sex, but I digress slightly.
To capitalise on their instant fame, ‘Snowed In’ was hastily recorded in London and released in the same year. Featuring fourty minutes of terrible music, it was a novelty Christmas album, arguably the lowest of the low in the pop industry that few artists or bands have ever stooped low enough to put out.
‘Snowed In’ is one of the worst albums ever made, whatever the time of year. Featuring a mixture of awful cover versions and original material, it exists solely to suck the life out of any festivities that may be happening in December in the western world.
‘Merry Christmas Baby’ kicks things off, plagarising Deep Purple’s majestic ‘Maybe I’m A Leo’ along the way, a fatal error from the off. The only other notable riff is in the bog standard ‘Everybody Knows The Clause’ which is ok, at least by Hanson’s generally low standards.
Pretty much as soon as this record starts, all hell breaks loose, and not in a ‘Reign in Blood’ by Slayer kind of way. Ironic really for a band with a militant Christian upbringing.
‘Snowed In’ is a mixture of Hanson’s own inept compositions and woefully ill-judged cover versions of famous yuletide hits such as ‘Rockin Around The Christmas Tree’. The former are so wet and miserable it’s a wonder they weren’t featured on an episode of Eastenders, and the latter so over the top and overly serious that there is no enjoyment to be had from them whatsoever.
Christmas, for most of us, is really about kicking back, watching some crap TV shows, getting some nice swag or cash and eating life-threatening amounts of food. When the classic Christmas songs start coming on the radio, those off us that got an education and don’t have to do shift work know that the countdown to the cash and calories has begun. Everyone including the original artists sort of know their December hits are a bit crap, but it’s part of a nice tradition now. The point is, they do not take themselves or their seasonal music seriously.
Hanson made this mistake, which leaves ‘Snowed In’ with no redeeming features whatsoever. Listening to it from beginning to end, as I’ve had to to write this article, was one of the most gruelling musical experiences I can remember. The music itself is terrible, but perhaps even worse, tonally wrong for the subject matter. It’s three young longhairs playing music more suited to men three times their ages. It’s crap.
The world of mainstream pop music in the noughties remained Hanson-free; I blame ‘Snowed In’. Maybe if they had waited at least another year or so after releasing the poor but cherished ‘Middle of Nowhere’, and followed up with a better album that was at least still cool from the perspective of teen girls, Hanson would have enjoyed a more substantial, longer-lasting career.
By Slick Nick | @Poppeelings
Billy Mitchell, star of never ending soap Eastenders, will be jetted off to the USA later this year, hoping to bring his cherished antics to a new stateside audience.
The Londoner, 54, shot to fame when he first appeared in the British TV programme in 2009, struggling to hold down employment and relationships as part of the long-suffering Mitchell clan. Within months, his popularity had skyrocketted, allowing him the enviable status of being in the main Christmas storylines.
His next venture will be a documentary-style twenty part series called Billy in Beverly Hills. It will depict the cockney in a West Ham football shirt travelling the bars and clubs, failing to impress women.
He will also look for cleaning jobs in restaurants and garages, all the while struggling to win over bosses with his poor examples of organisation and customer service gained from experience selling fruit and veg on Ian Beale’s market stall.
Producer Richard Wilkes thinks the show will be a roaring success.
He said: ‘Billy Mitchell is a ratings winner. His antics have gripped British soap fans for years.’
‘Will he or won’t he succeed in his current minimum wage job? And will this lady put up with him in a sexual capacity for more than three months? And will Phil Mitchell ever accept him as the top beta male of his clan? These are the questions that keep millions of people tuned in week on week.’
‘He will definitely capture a global audience, no question about it. In fact, I’m surprised we didn’t think of doing this sooner.’
Billy in Beverly Hills will make its HBO debut later this summer.
By Slick Nick | @Poppeelings (inspired by @adamhopelies)
Caucasian pop legends Keane have returned unscathed and just as dull as before from an excursion to Burma, one of the few counties judges by the world’s media to be even more dangerous than the United Kingdom.
It was hoped that their patended brand of white, middle class piano pop would bring the country’s violence and beheadings to an end.
Armed with just a grand piano, some accoustic guitars, a full orchestra and some brown cardigans from Debenhams, the talented foursome sang their hearts out across the land. The music was described as ‘quite boring’ by many leading political figures and even the Karen rebels themselves.
The group, who have been long-championed by Q Magazine and the Daily Telegraph, endured inhumane conditions to bring their award-winning songs to a new audience, such as having to wear the same Pringle t-shirt for two days in a row in some instances. The nearest branch of Starbucks was also reportedly ‘quite a long walk’ from their three-star hotel.
Whilst taking inspiration from the struggles of the Burmese people, Keane alpha male Thomas Chaplin was keen to assure his fans that the cherished safe pop of their current albums will not be neglected in favour of more uptempo, interesting, politically-motivated work.
He said: ‘Our next studio album will be more of the same. You’ll still be able to kick back with some Robinson’s cordial juice and unwind to the soft, unchallenging sound of Keane at full force.’
Astonishingly, whilst on his trip, Mr Chaplin was at one point mistaken for millionairre Conservative MP David Cameron by locals. It was said that ‘the glint in his eye that only someone with a very privaleged upbringing can pull off’ as well as similar hair and clothes, misled the Burmese into thinking a British invasion was taking place, and not the kind the Americans enjoyed in the 1960s.
Later this summer, Keane will be getting down to the business of organising transport and security for their first live album, set to be released during Christmas 2014. ‘Keane Live ‘n’ Loud in Sudan’ will feature a set-list comprising all their hit singles alongside newer material.
By Slick Nick | @Poppeelings
I do generally ignore hip-hop and dance music as genres, assuming that the majority of albums under these banners will be poor by default, so not worthy my time in writing about them. However, with Rizzle Kicks, I’ve decided to make an exception. It seems impossible to escape them and their terrible music. They have guested on other poor quality singles from the likes of Olly Murs, and have now made enough videos of their own to never be off the music channels and radio. Having captured my attention and invaded my life in the same way Bruno Mars did this time last year, I feel it my duty to explore their debut album ‘Stereo Typical’ in some depth.
These guys are two rappers from Brighton; there’s a couple of reasons right there to avoid their music at all costs. I have to say, the title is slightly misleading, as this is not a typical modern hip-hop record. With retro-sounding backing music underpinning light-hearted, unchallenging lyrics, it’s certainly unlike any other album of the same genre around today.
And therein lies the first problem. There are no big cars, no massive gold chains, no guns, no swearing, no lyrics humiliating women and rival gang members, just nothing fun or interesting. Sometimes I like a bit of escapism in music, and Rizzle Kicks fail to provide it here. There is no conflict or drama in their verse, only emptiness. It’s probably this kind of safe mediocrity that got them paired up with Olly Murs for the rubbish ‘Heart Skips a Beat’ single.
The song-writing is poor at the best of times, with bog-standard rapping permeating each track and ineffective stabs at melody coming during certain choruses. Rap affictionados often get up in arms when someone describes their beloved music as ‘just talking’, but in the case of this album, it really is the truth. Listening to clowns talk about their mundane lives over forgettable backing music is certainly not what I’d call compelling. To add to the misery, they keep reminding the listener of their band name in nearly every song. Trust me, I did not need to be told this so often.
The (many) singles are practically as bland and forgettable as the filler fluff, a rarity in modern pop music, with the exception being the insufferable ‘Mama Do The Hump’. This song and title is so bad, it’s almost embarrassing to have to write. Simply one of the worst singles released in recent memory, as if to rub salt into the wounds of music lovers, it also featured a ‘hilarious’ cameo by that blubbery bastion of medicrity James Corden doing a funny little dance in the cheap-looking video.
I find the look of bemusement on the Kicks’ faces quite interesting on the front cover of this hour of crap music, as if they are asking themselves ‘why did so many people buy our singles and this album?’ It’s a question that beats me too. I’m sure it will puzzle music historians for years to come as well.
‘Stereo Typical’ is one of the worst albums ever made. It is a lifeless, mundane, boring effort that fails to do what it says on the tin, performed by two young wankers from Brighton lacking the musical talent and life experience required to make a passable hip-hop album. Take my advice – instead of listening to this record, get the same effect by playing some George Formby on the stereo whilst having a conversation with an old aunt or uncle on the phone, it’s probably less painful.