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Don't forget to vote on how brillo you think Simon Curtis' Broken is here!
Well knock me down with a feather – it's bloody windy today, let me tell you! There I was all bundled up in my posh Springfield scarf walking from the train station (ew how common) to my office, listening to As Long As You're Mine (from Wicked) on my archos, battling the elements, when all of a sudden I get clonked on the back of the head. Luckily I wasn't being mugged, merely attacked by some woman's errant umbrella that had flown from her grip. It was actually fairly painful to get stabbed by one of the spokes and all she could say was "stop it then!" How rude! I would have biffed her on the nose but then I remembered I'm a pacifist (and I hit like a 2 year old girl). So now I have a slightly sore noggin, but I'm sure I will get over it. I did titter at lunch time when some foolish teenage bint thought it would be funny to run at the pigeons and kick them (oooookay) and her shoe went flying into the fountain and the pigeons didn't bat an eyelid. Note to self: Find out if pigeons have eyelids…
Not that there is anything wrong with a bit of glorious indie music. The Kaiser Chiefs have made some of the most in your face pop records of the past couple of years and even pop loving rock hating dazprerogative knew who The Kooks are when they came on't radio t'other day! Get him. So it's time to examine some of the bands bringing rather lovely melodious, self written and played guitar-pop to my slightly oversized ears…
First up are a group I have been meaning to write about for ages. Blagg are a four piece band hailing from London and, er, Norwich who specialise in putting together a meaty selection of pop-ska tracks. Now there are a number of reasons to like Blagg – first up is their rather unpretentious promo photo. One of them has a Goonies t-shirt on which is so ironically cool it hurts and one (on far right) looks like he is having his arm twisted just to be there ;) And that's the second reason we like Blagg – there's no need for arm twisting to enjoy their music. While they may mine late 70s and early 80s acts like The Specials, Madness and Squeeze for their musical inspiration, the results are songs that sound familiar yet have a fun fresh quality to them that remains completely unjaded and a real treat to listen to. Songs like Parking Fine skip along into your brain culminating in choruses that are as memorable as a Back To School compilation album. And even reference Waitrose! With any luck this band will be lighting up the new acts stage at V Festival later this year… (plus you know I like a band with mad keyboard skills!) .
Next are Air Traffic who also do well in the keyboard department. This Bournemouth four piece have crafted a quality line of piano led indie pop – the type of music Keane should be putting out if they hadn't gone so self indulgent and needy. Rising from practising in industrial units at the airport, to recording live for Zane Lowe on radio one, this band have all the signs of an act in the ascendancy. And why shouldn't they be when they put out tunes like the rousing Never Even Told Me Your Name, the indie-pop perfection of Charlotte and the stunning Just Abuse Me (listen to that amazing piano!) Check em out on myspace now so you can say you were almost in on the ground floor! .
Finally are The View. How did I not know about them? I mean they are on their third single for crying out loud. They write about things they know about, so they are keeping it real y'all. Tracks like Wasted Little DJs are about local party people, while Superstar Tradesman is all about being rude to your neighbourhood barflys. The tunes are always omnipresent, but they take it up to the next level with the rather amazing Same Jeans ~ "I'm gonna go to a disco in the middle of the town/Everybody's dressing up/I'm dressing down" they sing over a guitar infused, harmonica led jangle that makes being skanky and unwashed seem like a little slice of indie pop nirvana. Filthy urchins! Be sure to check out the rather lovely acoustic version of Same Jeans too…
LINK: Blagg's myspace site
LINK: Air Traffic's myspace site
LINK: The View's myspace site
Remember when Whitney Houston could do no wrong? She was all over the pop charts like a rash with her first two albums and even recording American idol-esque type songs for the Olympics in 1988 (why no Idol has chosen this as their first single remains beyond me). Then she took a bit of a break, I moved onto Debbie, Kylie et al until her stunning return in late 1990. Just as it seemed pre-slutty Mariah might take over the world, Whitney came back with a funky jill-swing pop of an album called I'm Your Baby Tonight. As a piece of work it addressed the criticisms of her last album being too "pop" by being firmly routed in the r'n'b works of LA Reid and Babyface, yet not jarringly so that it would offend her existing fanbase. Lead off single and title track was a sublime meaty pop track that reigned in the vocal acrobatics somewhat and focused on providing a catchy chorus, some faux rapping and beats perfectly in sync with what the kids in the clubs were getting down to those days (and by clubs I mean mormon discos of course!) My Name Is Not Susan was almost a prequel for It's Not Right… and was a similiarly clubby slice of hip-pop berating her fella for getting her name wrong (the cad), while All The Man I Need bought back the classic ballads she was so famous for. There was also a rather jaunty duet with Stevie Wonder on We Didn't Know which fair warmed the cockles of my heart! However, the album highlight was a restrained masterpiece that was curiously overlooked for single status in the UK – Miracle remains one of her strongest tracks on her strongest album and is an exercise in how sometimes less can really be a lot more. One of the most beautiful Whitney ballads out there, this track shows an artist at the very top of her game.
Coming soon: memorable albums from Pebbles, Sheena Easton, Karyn White, Sweet Sensation and more…

LINK: Purchase I'm Your Baby Tonight
MP3: Whitney – Miracle
MP3: Whitney – I'm your baby tonight
MP3: Whitney and Stevie – Who Do You Love (Live on Arsenio)
Fashion is tres importante in the world they call pop. And also in my world. Today, at work I have gone for my suave "tv presenter" look a la sexless Dermot O'Lovely or sexy Steve Jones from t4 – you know, a nice pair of jeans, and a white shirt under a dark jumper. Simple yet oh so effective. I look quite the fox even if I do say so myself (despite the less than glamorous background stalls and lack of popstar hair due to excessive windy conditions outside!) Anyway, today is all about how to dress like a popstar, not a tv presenter so as my models I have chosen (ie. pilfered photos from their official website) Rob and Chris from Lockdown. Seriously, it has grown quite scary how much I want this group to succeed now. Anyone who can turn Alice Cooper rocker Poison into a dancefloor stomper, cover Maniac and still come out with their credibility intact on the other side and conjur up pop magic like Hott is alright by me. And the boys dress ok too ;)
Let's start off with this rather chic look from Chris. Now it's what I call the elegant-casual look (e.g. jeans dressed up with something far more evening wear). And as anyone who saw H on celebrity Big Brother the other day will know, it's a look that's very easy to get wrong. H had the loop of the scarf all wrong and paired it with a jumper. No no no no no! Go for a larger loop of the scarf and pair it with a waistcoat (definitely this season's must have) and a pristine white t shirt. Lovely…
Now the white shirt/black tie look is very popstar and very now. And it's a very versatile look. You can go for the smart suit look (a la most Westlife videos since the dawn of time, but lets face it a bloke in a well fitted suit usually does look the biz) or a slightly more casual look a la Soren who did very well with tucked in shirt and rolled up sleeves here… Chris has gone for the "much more free to dance around in" look which works equally as well, though you have to be careful not to look like you just got fired from work ;) Wear the tie as an accessory rather than a tie (if you don't know what I mean then there is very little hope for you ;) ) and you won't go far wrong. Oh and pick a white shirt that doesn't look like you used to wear it to school – one with double pockets for example as seen in the pic above.

Rob is a completely different "kettle of fish" (whatever that means). He manages to look effortlessly styled in every day clothes (that may sound like an insult – it's certainly not meant to be. It's a very difficult thing to accomplish). Taking something from your everyday wardrobe and making it "popstar" can be fairly simple if you know what you are doing. Always go for something fitted – don't just throw on any baggy old top. Accessorise round the neck and wrist – crosses and leather straps are always a safe bet. Finally be sure to go for a rocking belt. It's always good to draw attention to the waistline ;)
LINK: Lockdown's official gallery
~ lots of good stuff at arjan - mika's video, justin timberlake and sting's love child and some good Good Charlotte news :)
~ some good stuff too over at hotstufffiles, including news that makes thezapping go moist - take that the musical! But we continued to be baffled by everyone's love for Linda Sundblad...(but then i still don't get Robyn so i need to tackle both at the weekend!)
~ Girls Aloud and Sugababes to Walk This Way? Check it out at Chartrigger...
~ Can we marry Nick? Well no as we are already civilly partnered/common law wife'd! But if he continues doing fab reviews like this, we may invite him on our second honeymoon...
~ XO has a rather brilliant birthday post on Dame David Bowie - he's not really my cup of tea, but this is a brillo read...
~ Veronica Mars/PosterGirl has a quick probe of Henry Winckler. We can't imagine anything better :)
Coming Weds: the start of another boyband retrospecticus; a look at the alternates starring Mika! Matt Willis! Nerina! Kylie! Delta!; some new tunes we have come across that we like... see you then!


  1. Chris said...
    I've heard (and it makes a lot of sense) that "Miracle" by Whitney is about a woman who had an abortion and urging others to be pro-life. "for nothing should matter, not when love grows inside you. The choice is yours. There's a miracle in store." Is this true?
    Digital Technique said...
    What an amazing post Paul!! Love The View - not often a band from my little hometown of Dundee make it big!! Going to see them in Glasgow on the NME tour alongside The Automatic - can't wait!!! Only heard about Air Traffic about a week ago but am going to see them in Dundee at the end of February, the same week as I am seeing The Feeling and Amy Winehouse - busy week!!!!
    Poster Girl said...
    ^^^Oh my gosh--wow! That many concerts! I'll admit, I'm a bit envious :)

    I just heard Air Traffic recently, too, and I have to admit I'm liking what I've heard so far (plus, I like the picture of them the BBC used :) ). And if you "going indie" means bands like this, that's not too bad--in fact, I like them! Like the View song you've posted and I was going to highlight my favorite Blagg songs, but I couldn't chose. And indie's not exactly a scene I know much about, so thanks :)

    (Rather oddly, all the word verification things I've had to do tonight have had the same combination of letters. At first, I thought maybe it was some sort of sign, but now I'm thinking Blogger must not have resolved all its issues despite that maintenance today.)
    J'ason D'luv said...
    Blogger has indeed been a major bastard today.

    The best thing Whitney ever did was self-destruct. To think, she turned down Robert De Niro's come-ons! Christ, she coulda been bumped by The Don!
    Paul said...
    Chris - i've not heard that about the song before, but listening to the lyrics it certainly could be true i guess. Maybe Dan will know as it's from his favourite Whitney album?

    DT ~ The View and Air Traffic have really grown on me. I think Air Traffic have amazing piano skills in their songs and sound just fab. However I am so loving Blagg right now its not even funny! And hey! I have the feeling/the fray on feb 18th with ruthiepoos!Who knew you were so eclectic!

    Veronica! ~ (will people start to think that is your real name?!) that IS a great picture of air traffic. I've not seen it before. It certainly made me smile :)

    D'Luv - what would a thezapping post be without a sassy comment from you, you old whore :) Muah! (or something infinitely less gay!)
    Ella Thorvaldsen said...
    You look great Paul. Fucking NY with a bit of UCLA green leaf circa 1970. Throw in a Pucci and im yours. Great bod too. Not sure about the toilet. Do you hang out there all the time. Say hello to George for moi.

    Now the boyband boys really have to get out of the 1990's and into some All Saints, Energie and new haircuts. They look drab, dated and out of touch. None of the boys look like they actually like the clothes because the clothes are AWFUL!!!

    Wearing Denim is okay but not worn like that. A waistcoat(talking about Chris here) does not go well with a scarf and jeans bought from TopMan's house label. The haircut also went out with Five. The t-shirt needs to be a colour. The belt could also do with a buckle. As for that awful WHITE wrist thing...i cannot say anything more but hideous!

    They need haircuts, caps and clothes that flatter their bodies. The cross on Rob(how dated...when old women who work at British Airways make the cross a political statement you know to avoid it)... should be brought up to the neck to bring attention to his flesh. Currently the dangly thing forces the eyes to focus on what appears to look like early signs of pies(man tits).

    Which is totally not sexy. Im not saying he is fat but the top doesnt help his bod nor does the plunging cross. Crosses and accessories are, as you say, a safe bet but they must be worn with the right body, top and face. Rob doesnt have man tits but the combination of the top and the ode to the suffering of some man some hundreds of years ago makes him look like hes breastfeeding triplets. The belt is the only success(I wont mention the shoes).

    If we go down the body the top makes him have a beer belly but thats due to the pressure of the arms on the fabric. The belt is overshadowed by the suffering buttons that are forced back by the arms. I'd swap what hes showing. Take off the long-sleeves, show a bit of muscle and that would allow the top to relax just a bit. This would leave his belly to hide behind the belt and not appear to protrude out. In short for Rob....bring the bangles up, cut the long-sleeves, change the shoes, get a better cut jeans and a haircut. Keep the belt. It works.

    So in conclusion. You looking fucking Pucci and the popstars look dreadful. I know its bitchy but thats just me. they look fucking awful.

    Cute faces though.
    Paul said...
    Ella, that had me laughing so hard i almost love-wee'd over my desk at work! You are by far the bitchiest funniest person i know! I had friends texting me to ask if i had read your comments (hello Bernice!) Personally, i love the waistcoat/scarf look - think its great :) But i will not say anymore for fear of being judged and plus you have just complimented me on my thrown together clothes so i will get out while i am on top (though i bet you are always on top!) PS - though i perpetuated the myth that it was a toilet, it was actually the showers/changing rooms at work so far too classy for george michael!! Lovely to have you around Ella - next time i am in London you are SO taking me shopping...
    Robpop said...
    Oh F-Ella! Have you been taking those pink pills. I'll have to call those lovely white ladies at the farm again if you haven't. Remember what happened last time you were put away.

    Paul, you look lovely. Very phoar. As do those boys. Personally I think they look quite good. I have to agree, as if i had any choice in the matter, with Ella in that you look the best though.
    Dan said...
    I'd not heard the abortion thing about Whitney's "Miracle" - but one story I DO remember from back in the day! (dear Lord - 16 years ago!) is that the song was a "coming out" song of sorts. I believe the basis for this was the lyrics "Don't throw love away" and "Nothing should matter/Not when love grows inside you." I think this was back when Whitney was being dogged incessantly by those lesbian rumors. Personally, I always thought it was a bit of a stretch, but it's what I heard. *shrugs*

    Anyway, yes, I do love I'm Your Baby Tonight. While the first two albums are fun pop, they haven't aged terribly well (save the FABULOUS "How Will I Know" which we all danced to insanely on New Year's Eve - and yes there is video but it may need to be burned.) ;) I wasn't too hot on anything Whit's done recently but I'm all excited for a comeback album.

    And Paul, you look great in that pic!

    Chris said...
    I just read on wikipedia that "Miracle" is about an abortion:

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