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19 days til Christmas

Going to the movies last night put me in a jolly festive mood and hearing my favourite ever Christmas song on the radio (mercifully not the dodgy Ronan Keating cover version) tipped me over the edge into full on Xmas Factor mode. More on the movie later, and more on my fave Christmas song in a few days… Lets talk Prison Break for a "mo" ~ season two has of course been utterly ludicrous and utterly addictive (must everyone who comes across one of the escapees have a wanted poster on their desk?!) and the mid season cliffhanger episode was quite beyond ridiculous and I nearly decided to give up on it, but the last few minutes pulled it all together and got me interested again. Hurrah! My dad loves this show – and Lost. My mom is more of a Desperate Housewives girl. Which is back to being amazing this season. But I digress. As I so often do… anyway, lots of things to write about today. I'm trying to limit it now to four topics a day due to time etc., but honestly I could go on writing forever somedays. I'm really enjoying doing my blog and I think that's an important factor…hopefully you guys are enjoying it too!

Something happened between the final single from Take That and Party being released and the lead off single from their sophomore set Everything Changes. It was if the five lads had taken more control of their music and formed a much more cohesive unit. And it was also as if the entire nation had got together and decided that actually, Take That were pretty amazing. And for me I had made some decisions in my life that probably weren't the best for me. And so everything came together when the epic Pray was released. Not only did this have another gloriously homoerotic (yet very classy) video, it was the song that confirmed that indeed Take That were a musical tour de force to be reckoned with. A magnificent three minute pop classic, it had tight harmonies, a great sing a long chorus and a tune that was nigh on impossible to get out of your head. For me, this really set the bar by which all other pop songs should be measured. And most importantly (as corny as it sounds), it really helped me get some clarity around what I was doing and finally accept who I really was. And of course then I was ready for some disco, and the That were more than happy to oblige. Relight My Fire was a duet with Lulu and was the jolt of pure indulgent dance electricity the charts and myself needed at the time. It became an iconic visual display too as devil horns appeared way before Steps pilfered them for their cover of Better The Devil You Know. Third single Babe saw Mark take lead vocals on a gentle ballad with a great middle eight crescendo that gave the song power and impact. Ideally timed for the festive market, it became their third consecutive number one. Further proof that the That were acting more as a cohesive unit came when Robbie took lead on the next single – the title track of their second album Everything Changes. A great video accompanied it filmed in hued brownish tones and the jaunty song was the first indication that a) I was right to be totally smitten with Robbie and b) that his cheeky chappie appeal would soon woe a nation. Sometimes the musical content of an album is less important than the moment it encapsulates (summer 93 – summer 94) and Everything Changes was not only a boyband masterpiece by which all others should be judged, but a perfect snapshot in time of a year where I finally learned how to grow up and be what i wanted to be :)
LINK: Buy Take That's Everything Changes Expanded Edition
MP3: Take That - The Party Remix (relight/magic/minute/changes)
MP3: Take That - Babe (return mix)
Lord knows I have a lot of festive classics to fit in before the big day. The birth of Santa. Or something ;) And as Kirsty (who I have known since I was about 7 years old) and I always kick off the Christmas movie season together, we braved the wind and rain and went to see Deck The Halls last night. As a film, it's got obvious slapstick comedy, it's cloying, sentimental and emotionally manipulative. So everything I want in a Christmas movie then ;) And there is a lot more to love about Deck The Halls, which honestly surprised me because I wasn't expecting that much from it. Essentially a remake of last years ITV drama Christmas Lights, it stars the always lovely Matthew Broderick (playing a somewhat subdued grown up Ferris Bueller) who is married to that sex and the city chick (not the one he's really married to, but the one who played Charlotte), has Danny DeVito in it (but that's forgiveable I suppose) and Kristin Chenowitz who played Glinda in the original version of fave musical Wicked. The story is basically that Matthew is Mr Christmas in his festive little hamburg who sticks rigidly to his beloved Christmas traditions. Danny moves in across the street and wants his Christmas lights to be so bright that they can be seen from space, which having to sleep opposite, Matthew doesn't appreciate. A battle of wills follows including renegade fireworks, speed skating contests, an entirely inappropriate but hilarious slutty daughters on stage scene and ultimately the message that sometimes what you wish for isn't what you get but what comes along is much better anyway (wipes tear from eye!). Oh and there is a cynical look at Christmas excess in there and the value of family and friends. What more could you want?
And I know I have raved about Love, Actually before (not only my fave festive film, but my fave film, period, as my American compadres say!) and also discussed Heat's fall from my grace but in last weeks issue they showed signs of redemption once again by not only accurately reviewing and trashing Gwen's sweet escape (not so sweet) but writing this about my fave flick…
"It's a multi plotted comedy about the lives and loves of Londoners, unfurling in the five weeks before Christmas. You remember: long-suffering wife Emma Thompson, crushed after opening her Christmas gift; besotted Andrew Lincoln watching the video of Keira Knightly marrying his bestest pal; wide eyed little Thomas Sangster confessing his doomed love for his pretty eleven year old class mate; every second of profane has been rocker Bill Nighy's screen time. All gold. For once the tag line didn't lie: very romantic, very comedy."

LINK: Deck The Halls myspace site
LINK: Buy Love, Actually CD
MP3: Lynden David Hall – All You Need is Love
THE DIGITAL AGE HAS ARRIVED:Since I did a brief "spiel" on them last month, I have become a little bit obsessed with the music of Baz, Dean and Jayden (aka Digital) and let me tell you all why… we have our guitar/pop boybands in the form of scamps McFly and the delectable Click Five. We have the future of "pure pop" boybands in Pacific Avenue, Billiam and Eton Road. For the longest time now we have needed a electro-pop boyband – a male Girls Aloud if you will. A butch-er version of the Sugababes. Phixx tried and failed. For a while I pinned my hopes on Veto Silver, but it's all gone mysteriously quiet on that front. And then along come Digital with 4 slices of electro-pop pie so tempting and delicious you just have to help yourself to another slice. Amidst a swirl of unrelenting industrial beats, growling guitars and pulsating organs, the boys sweet vocals shine through and bring a certain life and energy to the songs. The two covers – Blur's Girls and Boys and Human League's Don't You Want Me Baby – have been given an uptodate polish and both work well within the concept of the band. I'm particularly loving the boy only vocals on DYWMB, giving the song a cheeky new perspective. Their two original songs, San Frandisco and Deep Water, have a giddy enthusiasm about them that sucks you in and makes you long for some down and dirty remixes to get you sweaty on the dancefloor. I'm quite liking their look and popstar hair too – you have Baz with the obligatory bad boy shaven (head) haven and funky looking face stripe, Jayden is the dark haired brooding one, while Dean has pulled off the difficult t-shirt over the shirt look quite well. Image and music are everything in pop (hence no career for michelle mcmanus) and I am itching to see the boys get down to some funky dance routines, long since missing from our charts…(Sidebar your honour - this post made possible today by the magic powers of Poppostergirl!)
LINK: Digital's myspace site
MP3: Digital – Don't You Want Me
A few years ago I came across some quite lovely Christmas songs by two of my favourite Canadian artists. One was Sarah McLachlan duetting with Jewel (?) on the haunting and beautiful Winters Night. The other was Sarah again teaming up with my fave Canadian (way past) boyband, Barenaked Ladies on a jaunty God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen. At the time, it occurred to me that both acts would be quite suited to the beloved Christmas/seasonal cd concept. And both acts must have read my mind – 2004 saw a secularly inclusive BNL release Barenaked For The Holidays. Full of tunes that captured their "trademark" zaniness, the highlight was the insanely catchy Elf's Lament. Teaming up with Michael Buble (rar!) bought some extra Christmas tinsel to this almost perfect perky pop song about how rubbish it is being an Elf and what crappy benefits they get from ol' saint nick. Fast forward 2 years and Sarah releases the most elegant and pretty Christmas album for a long time (I imagine it was what Jewel was trying to do some years back with Spirit). The (other) divine Ms. M brings a certain reverence and awe to her selection of carols and seasonal songs – so much so that it is hard to pick out a highlight. So enjoy a sample from both in the zip file below, which also includes Avril Lavigne singing O Holy Night. Which is only ok, but I always kinda wanted Avril to marry Adam from Maroon 5 (once I was done with him) so her name would be Mrs Avril Lavigne Levine.
LINK: Purchase Barenaked For The Holidays
LINK: Purchase Sarah Mclachlan's Wintersong
DOWNLOAD: Thezapping Canadian Christmas Zip
~ The hunky and funky northern soul singer Aaron has rerecorded and beefed up one of my favourite songs of his You and Me. Check it out on myspace and let him know what you think. He's a super nice fella to boot…
~ Congratulations to
David Hughes who got engaged this very week. Much happiness to him and his bound to be lovely fiancĂ©e. I'll patiently await my invitation in the post…;)
~ Retraction: J'Ason D'Luv likes Take That (who wouldn't?)! It's Lily Allen who he wants to go away :)
~ what the eff is a beard? In Veronica Mars, someone told Parker that she was just some bloke's beard? Je ne comprend pas…

~ Paolo Nutini was on live lounge today – and did a cover of Rehab, which obviously is fast becoming the new Crazy. Obv, if anyone has an mp3 of it, send it my way :)

~ I hate it when Blogger dictates i have a gap between my lines. Anyone know how I stop that?

~ NME is not bad this week, though not as great as it used to be. Apart from it's rather pretentious list of top 50 albums (none of which will be on my year end list!) with the yawningly predictable number one, it improves with B-Flo admitting he wished he'd written DazPants current fave song, Razorlight's America (get into the live lounge and cover it then!) and Jamelia being runner up single of the week...

Coming soon: All the stuff I said yesterday, plus some other stuff that hasn't even popped into my head yet!


  1. Poster Girl said...
    So, I was looking through recent Danish releases, and do you know whose name I saw? James Carrington! With a song called "Ache", there are probably lots of James Carringtons, but I think this one might be you know if he released his song in the UK, too?

    Anyhow...aww, I wish I had magic powers! It was no problem :) You're right about the need for an electro-pop boy band, though...poor Phixx.

    I love Love Actually, and I love the Beach Boys song on the Love Actually sound track; for me, it's a lot more Christmas-y than "Little Saint Nick" by a long shot.

    I've heard about Elf's Lament, so I'm looking forward to hearing it from the zip :)

    (Er...a beard: a woman a man uses to disguise that he's gay.)
    Rose said...
    I know I've said it before that I hate Take That but I absolutely love 'Babe'.

    I've wanted to see 'Love Actually' for ages. It was on ITV tonight but I didn't watch it coz it was on the same time as Stargate lol.
    Adrian said...
    The blogger line break comes as you put a line break in your code as well as a < br / > break.

    Where are you watching Prison Break? It's not on UK TV yet is it?
    Dan said...
    Paul, your post has made me want to rewatch "Love Actually" - I haven't seen it in an age. Perhaps I'll get it from Netflix before the Christmas season vanishes. Hopefully, before the day is out here, I'll be having a Christmas themed post as well.

    Take care,
    Paul said...
    PPG - ooo i am glad lovely James Carrington is getting some releases. He has released Ache over here as a demo on iTunes and it popped up in the third episode this season of Smallville. Check out my holiday post tomorrow for an mp3!! I was listening to it by the pool! And thanks for the info re: beard. How did i not know that?? I just love Elfs Lament - "i make toys but i've got aspirations..." Brillo paddius...

    Rose - hate take that? Watched Stargate over Love Actually?! Has my blog taught you nothing ;) hehe!

    Adrian - thanks for the tip. I download tv shows from uTorrent p2p network for "sampling purposes only|" of course. I can usually get them the morning after they have aired stateside :) Hurrah!

    Dan - ooo i look forward to your holiday themed post. I was very excited that you liked the same two whitney albums i do!!
    J'ason D'luv said...
    I had to turn Love, Actually off after Hugh Grant started his woeful "dance" to the watered-down Girls Aloud cover of "Jump"...

    Really, people! Silent Night, Deadly Night is a much better yuletide classic...
    Anonymous said...
    can't believe no one has told you yet but a beard is a name to give a a gay man's "girlfriend" who he is only seeing to cover up the fact he's gay (or vice versa with a lesbian and a boyfriend)

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