Category Archives: Michael Jackson

Watch with my Mother’s Mother: Kanye West

So, we gave my Nan a break last week. Not because she needed it – the woman walks for 45 minutes a day and can rattle off a crossword in the time it takes a kettle to boil – but mainly because we needed the time to get our heads around Kanye West‘s ‘Runaway’ short film thing. We were worried that Nan would find it all a bit daunting and that the – let’s not be coy here – batshit themes and ridiculously preposterous storyline would put her off. I needn’t have worried. You will notice, however, that she was worried about where the lady’s wings came from so if you’re reading this Kanye (IMAGINE!), do let us know.

I’ve seen pictures in the paper of him with somebody, didn’t know that he was a rapper. I think it was a picture of him at that award show. It’s quite obvious from the film that he has a big ego, yes definitely. I didn’t have any expectations of it which was rather nice in a way. I enjoyed it, erm, I enjoyed the video though there were several bits in it where I couldn’t see the connections, but I loved the effects. I loved the way he was running at the beginning and then running at the end. That was really good I thought. The whole effect of that scenery was very good and the light coming down, which was her coming down of course. I liked that.

I wasn’t sure about the little boy with the torch and the Ku Klux Klan look, because they were all black people at that dinner table so why Ku Klux Klan? And the marching band. I mean, the fireworks fine, but the rest? And that big papier mache Michael Jackson head…I mean, at the dinner, it’s obviously about trying to get her to fit in, which she doesn’t does she? It’s a bit like the Last Supper because there was talk about God, sort of gospel, God-references. Where did that bit where that man says “you do know your girlfriend’s a bird” come from? He said he hadn’t noticed. I don’t know if he was trying to be funny or not really.

The ballet sequence in a way represented birds I felt in the way they danced, but I quite like that song, ‘The Toast’ [she means ‘Runaway’, but ‘The Toast’ is better]. That was the best bit of music I thought. I quite liked that one but it really was the only song I liked. I mean, the beginning, that music at the beginning was very sort of, not church music, but a bit like that. I didn’t think that voiceover at the beginning was very good at all.

I felt the ballerinas represented birds, the way they danced. It was very much that type of thing and of course when she sees the turkey and screams…where did those wings come from? I looked at it several times and she certainly doesn’t have wings before and she doesn’t have room to fold them. I liked the dancing bit in the house too but that’s where I couldn’t see the wings. I went back to that bit. I thought, where did they come from? I thought it was fantastic the way that she got the wings, when she saw the turkey and she was horrified. And the scream, which was like a bird’s scream, like a hawk screaming actually, that was good, but where did she get them from? Under the table?

It’s racy. She’s an underwear model? Well, she’s very good at it! I thought the whole thing was good the way they rigged her out but where those wings came from I haven’t got a clue. I just felt that the ballerina bit gave you the obvious ending that he wouldn’t be able to keep her because she was a bird. A bird bird, not a ‘bird’.

I felt the whole thing was really about him wanting the impossible. She’s saying “you can’t change me”. We change everything you see and she meant you couldn’t change her and that she had to go back, so you’re back to him wanting the impossible again. She’s like an alien isn’t she? Like ET. She’s got to go back to the sun.

I quite liked it overall and I showed it to Ella [my teenage cousin]. She liked the video. She sat and watched it. Well, they’re very grown up now aren’t they? She knew who I was talking about, but she’s not keen on him or rapping, but she really enjoyed the video. I don’t think the young care about things making sense. I think we look for something that isn’t there probably. He takes it all very seriously, but it’s just a long video with not particularly good singing in it. I thought she was quite good at acting. I can’t quite see what that line about the news was about at the beginning, and I don’t think he’s terribly good at acting.

I think he thinks an awful lot of himself. But then, they do nowadays don’t they Michael? But we want to watch people that are different. Oh, I’m sure he’s a right bore in real life! I think he’s showing off a certain amount because he obviously likes himself a lot. Perhaps just branching out and trying to be different. I mean, we all want to be different, don’t we? I think he’s just trying something different and it worked.

Song: 6 (I liked ‘The Toast’)

Video: 8 for the whole thing and 8 for ‘The Toast’

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Michael Jackson: still dead, still amazing

We did some stats re. Michael Jackson‘s death (he died a year ago today) that were meant for The Guardian but haven’t been used, so we were going to put them up for all to see. At the same time, we used to sit and watch Michael Jackson videos and listen to his music for about seven years straight, so the idea of throwing some (pretty dry) stats up here seems slightly perverse and, well, cold.

The other night, after a few glasses of wine, we watched about twelve videos of live performance taken from the 1980s and had it confirmed for about the millionth time that if you’re able to strip away all the extraneous stuff about pet chimps, dangling babies and sleepovers, he basically invented pop music as we know it now. Somewhat controversially, we’re also of the opinion that Bad is his best album.

So, by way of tribute, here are some pretty amazing clips of tour rehearsals and live performances that capture some the strange magic he was able to conjure up in an instant.

‘Bad’, live in Japan:

‘Man In The Mirror’ (taken from the ‘classic’ Moonwalker):

‘Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’, live in Japan:

Rehearsal footage of ‘Remember The Time’ for the Dangerous tour. Ever the perfectionist, Jackson scrapped the song from the tour at the last minute:

‘Smooth Criminal’, live in Mexico on the Dangerous tour:

The music will never die, etc.

The BRITS; best bits, shit bits

Let’s Beyonest.

We’ve always had a slight issue with Beyoncé. Not because we don’t like her, it’s just that we want the best from her. If pop is a school – with Peter Andre cleaning the loos – then Beyoncé is the head girl, the one with all the ability, the one that everyone loves to hate and aims to be like. It’s always been a slight disappointment to us that she’s never previously been able to match the peak of ‘Crazy In Love’, her first solo single proper, and everything since then has been left lying limp in its wake. ‘Deja Vu’ was mildly diverting at first, ‘Irreplaceable’ is alright, ‘Naughty Girl’ has some appeal, but it wasn’t until ‘Single Ladies’ and then ‘Sweet Dreams’ that we thought, “yes, Beyonce, this is you living up to your promise, well done. Now, where’s your Geography homework?”.

One thing that no-one can deny is that on stage Beyoncé is just about the most exciting thing to watch since, well, Michael Jackson. That is some accolade coming from us, believe it. You want truck loads of energy? Check. You want a sassiness that borders arrogance but keeps it in check? Er, check. You want a voice that sounds like honey, mixed with butter and a shot of vodka? What!? Check. Award shows just aren’t the same without Beyoncé strolling in, shedding some clothes (she’s not compromising her Christianity though) and putting on a show that makes Lady GaGa look like Stacey Solomon.

This is enough proof surely?

That look at the end that says, “yeah, you knows it. Can’t no-one mess with the Beyoncé”. We imagine she does refer to herself in the third person too: “Jay-Z, can you please get Beyoncé a biscuit? Yes, a wagon wheel would be fine for Beyoncé”.

Death defying

Michael Jackson’s not been long gone and already there’s a desperate Greatest Hits cash-in featuring some songs everyone’s already got, one ‘new’ one and a poem (!?), but now comes the news that this years X Factor finalists have recorded a cover of Jackson’s 1995 number 1, ‘You Are Not Alone’.

Read about it here.

Rumour has it that Michael Jackson’s song wasn’t the first choice for the cover. No, initially it was going to be ‘No Matter What’ by Boyzone. As in, Boyzone, who recently suffered the death of Stephen Gately. Is it appropriate to ‘cash-in’ on the work of two dead people when you’re trying to raise money for a hospital?

This isn’t very good :-(

That’s all.

Home is where the heart is

As the dust begins to settle following the death of Michael Jackson, it’s time to reflect on his career and what he’s achieved. No, wait, sorry, I read that wrong, it’s actually time to make ambulance chasing documentaries and release tribute singles. Like us, you probably sat open-mouthed during the memorial service last week. Some of it was genuinely moving, some of it slightly odd (John Mayer!?!), but in general it wasn’t really weird enough. This was MICHAEL JACKSON, where were all the aged stars? Where was Diana Ross? Where was Bubbles? Yeah, yeah, he’s too old now and too violent, but still, it’s what MJ would have wanted.

What we should have witnessed was this lost gem performed live by La Toya Jackson. ‘He’s My Brother’ isn’t a new song, but is lyrically so perfect it would surely have brought the house down. “Bad or Thriller, he’s still the man in the mirror”; “He’s not bad”; “On stage he’s electric, when he dances it’s just like magic”; “When I’m alone and I need him, he’s with me like lightning”.

There’s some kind of genius at work there.

Unfortunately, it’s not the official Jackson family tribute single. Oh no, that honour lies with ‘Home’ a song La Toya first composed for her 2002 Startin’ Over album. Yep, it’s not a new song either, but, hey, the sentiment fits right?

The single is out on 28 July.

New Musick Monday

There’s very little need to rake over the trauma of the results of this week’s chart positions. As has been widely reported both here and elsewhere, Michael Jackson‘s ‘Man In The Mirror’ was beaten to the number 1 spot by a track called ‘Evacuate The Dancefloor’ by Cascada. Investigations are currently underway and the chart police hope to have some answers soon. For the time being, all we ask is for your patience during these traumatic times. Elsewhere, La Roux‘s debut album shifted around 60,000 copies to enter at number 2, cementing her place at the top of the ‘fingers-crossed-at-least-one-of-these-new-for-2009-acts-sells-some-records’ league.

BUY THIS

Lungs by Florence & The Machine

We’re going to be honest right here and say we had huge reservations about Florence & The Machine. ‘Kiss With A Fist’ felt a bit too studied and mannered, whilst the image and the interviews created a kind of caricature of ‘kooky’. Luckily, we’re usually very wrong about most things, and Lungs is a fantastic debut that gets better with repeated listens. From the lush, harp-drenched ‘Rabbit Heart’ to the vein-popping emotion of ‘Girl With One Eye’ to the pure pop of ‘Hurricane Drunk’, it’s an album that will surprise, enthrall and annoy in equal measure. Plus, she’s brilliant live.

BOGLE ALL THE WAY TO THE SHOP AND STEAL A COPY

Guns Don’t Kill People…Lazers Do by Major Lazer

For those not familiar with the concept behind Major Lazer, allow us to enlighten. Major Lazer is a one-armed Jamaican commando who battles the forces of darkness in a zombie war, whilst also running a night club. Said night club specialises in fusing dancehall with electro, or reggae with surf guitars, R&B with house, etc, etc. It’s an intoxicating listen. In reality, the album is the work of producers Diplo and Switch, who have previously worked with acts like M.I.A, Santigold, Spank Rock and Tricky. Unlike the recently released N.A.S.A album (another producer-lead enterprise complete with starry line-up), Major Lazer have created an album that doesn’t take itself too seriously. It also features some beats Missy would giver her left arm for (soz Missy. Call me yeah, we need to talk about that money you owe me).

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‘Shark In The Water’ by V.V. Brown

Sometimes a simple, summery pop song is all it takes. ‘Shark In The Water’ is V.V. Brown’s third single, and is the kind of three minutes that make you think, “wow, this would sound brilliant on the radio”. Unfortunately, most radio stations seem to disagree, which given the bilge they do play is frankly astonishing. Brown has recently ranted at this mystery via Twitter, which at 140 characters only, somewhat inhibits her disbelief. Then again, “what the fuck” is only thirteen characters long and seems to sum it up.

What about the elephants?

The death of Michael Jackson seems to have brought out the worst in some people. Not only do we have to endure rolling news coverage in which Jean from Tescos gets asked what she thought were the reasons behind his alleged addiction to prescription drugs, but there’s also the tabloid headlines (‘Jackson buried without his brain’ was the low point of today’s coverage). What about the music, man? Well, thankfully Jackson’s hits are still taking up a fair amount of space in the UK top 75. Unfortunately, the great British public chose to buy the new single by Cascada as opposed to ‘Man In The Mirror’, preventing Jackson from having a posthumous number 1, for now at least.

But, what does this magnum opus sound like I hear you cry? Surely, it’s some kind of pop classic to deny ‘Man In The Mirror’? Well, it’s not, it’s this:

It’s too early for Jackson to be turning in his grave, surely?

New Musick Monday

After a week of chart hiatus, we’re back with a bang this week. OK, picking La Roux and Florence & The Machine was never what you’d descirbe as a risk, but still, you’ve got to be in it to win it. La Roux’s ‘Bulletproof’ soared in at no.1 whilst her raven-haired counterpart just missed the top ten, at no.12. Even the Gossip album made the top twenty, more evidence if any were needed of Musick’s almost Shamanistic promotional qualities.

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La Roux by La Roux

In a way, despite it’s title, pop music is meant to be divisive. Lots of people hate Madonna or Kylie or the Sugababes and will write numerous vitriolic forum posts to prove it. That’s good, no-one wants to please everyone all the time, surely? La Roux front woman Elly Jackson seems to have got up plenty of noses on her way to being a bona fide pop star, and this debut album is packed full of potential singles, meaning she’s not going away any time soon. ‘In For The Kill’, Bulletproof’ and ‘Quicksand’ are all deft eighties-saturated gems, whilst ‘I’m Not Your Toy’, ‘Fascination’ and ‘Colourless Colour’ show there’s more to the duo then just a falsetto and some cheap synths.

BORROW THIS FROM JAKE

Wilco (The Album) by Wilco

Wilco are often called the “American Radiohead“. Well, they were probably called it once and then that was referred to by another journalist, which was then picked up by another and so the lie is perpetuated. Wilco aren’t Radiohead, they’re Wilco, do you see? Anyway, this is their new album and it features a camel on the cover, wearing a party hat. This alone is reason enough to be interested, but luckily it also contains some pretty amazing music. All in all, it’s better then their last one which was pretty dull, but not as good as their best one which is A Ghost Is Born.

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‘Man In The Mirror’ by Michael Jackson

For reasons unknown to us at least, this has become the front runner to reach number 1 following Michael Jackson’s untimely death. Given the ubiquity of ‘Billie Jean’, ‘Thriller’ et al, perhaps a song that didn’t reach the top twenty on its initial release but somehow seems to sum Jackson up – the allusions to changing the world and your appearance – has made it stand out. Whatever the reason, ‘Man In The Mirror’ is an epic song, all slow-burn build-up, finger clicks, choirs and that pained, soulful voice. In general, we’ve been surprised at how well the Bad album stands the test of time. Well done Michael.