Thursday, 9 July 2009

Green Day - 21 Guns

Hurray! Green Day are back to show us all how messed up politics and the world are at the moment. The problem is no one seems to have told them George Bush jnr. isn’t President anymore and that God’s cool older brother Barack is here to save the day (unless he ‘does a Blair’ and fucks it all up).

The song itself is a stagnant ballad if ever I heard one, a spluttering regurgitation of the previously-released Boulevard of Broken Dreams. It plods along in such a turgid fashion it makes a ticking clock sound like majestic fireworks.

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Michael Jackson Memorial Service - Staples Centre, Los Angeles, California - 8th July 2009

“They’re not taking his body to that concert, are they?” my mum asked incredulously as we watched Michael Jackson’s coffin loaded into a gleaming hearse which was soon gliding along a Los Angeles freeway bathed in beautiful sunlight, making its way to the Staples Centre for the King of Pop’s memorial service.
“Yep,” I said, with an acceptance only a child of the 90s could possess.

And so Michael Jackson was wheeled into a packed out arena for the lucky few thousand to mourn his passing and celebrate his life.

As expected, a whole cavalcade of ‘slebs shared their memories of Jackson. These fame-drenched admirers ranged from the over-achieving (Queen Latifa) to the genuinely genial (Berry Gordy – not realising the irony when he said Jackson “...was driven by his hunger to learn…to constantly top himself”), all the while giving their verdict on the man’s talents and legacy. The most interesting stories came from those who had known Jackson personally for a number of years, those from the Motown family (all of whom had an unsettling waxy quality about their appearance). Their stories offered an insight into Jackson the practical joker, the loyal friend, the dutiful young man. All of this was delivered in front of the Jackson family who occupied the front row; the exhausting amount brothers, each wearing a single spangled glove, sisters Janet and LaToya, mother Katharine and the villain of the piece, father Joe.

Others recycled the same crap which has been repeated, parrot-like, since his demise. Crap such as “He was a one off” and “He made the world a better place”. When Usher claimed “I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for Michael Jackson,” I thought to myself Then he has a lot to answer for...

The musical tributes were as patchy as the details of his death. Mariah’s hatchet job of I'll Be There, Stevie Wonder’s tender Never Dreamed You’d Leave in Summer (a voice of truest gold), Jermaine Jackson’s brittle Smile, Usher’s bog-fucking-standard Gone Too Soon; this was clearly not the time to celebrate his best music, the funkier upbeat numbers, but instead to wallow in melancholy and Jackson’s ballads.

A final Hey Judian hurrah ended proceedings with group singalongs of We Are the World and Heal the World before one of Michael’s children, Paris, spoke. For a child who had spent a sizeable chunk of her life behind a shroud or a veil for reasons of privacy, here she was, in front of thousands at the Centre and millions watching around the world, to deliver a simple message of her father. Only the most granite-hearted were not moved. One of the lesser Jacksons thanked the masses as the Jackson clan quickly exited stage right.

You may not believe me but such is the twisted, gnarled and horrifying world of Fame that Jackson once occupied as it's mad Overlord I was genuinely expecting him to somehow rise from his coffin and declare the whole thing a publicity stunt. I was also expecting dancing elephants, African tribesmen moonwalking in unison and lots of wind-machines. I certainly wasn’t expecting the brutally sombre affair delivered. Then I watched something else.

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Franz Ferdinand ~ Can't Stop Feeling

Ok, try to overlook the fact that the introduction sounds like a naff early-noughties Bacardi ad or the opening music to a chat show even shittier than Graham Norton’s. Now try to ignore that there isn’t really a chorus and that it’s stultifyingly cosy.

What you need to tell yourself is that it has a clammy charm, a tight-chested intimacy which is perfect for those sweaty bars and lurid clubs you frequent (yeah, I’ve seen you) and, above all, they haven’t lost it just yet.