The biggest number one single of the year will be decided this week. Since the advent of awful ‘reality’ TV, what has happened for the past few years is that the winner of Pop Idol or the X-factor has been hyped into the number one spot. This year there’s a campaign to oust them. I know it’s cynical anti-marketing, but as far as production and subject goes it is the perfect anti X-factor song. See Dave Gorman’s blog for more details.
It’s not as bad as you might think. I’d argue that with lines like
I needed a break when your book about dreams was taken,
I needed to pray or see a priest that day,
I needed to leave this trade and just heave it away,
But I cleaned up my place like you so I could see things straight.
I never cared about God when life was sailin’ in the calm,
So I said I’d get my head down and I’d deal with the ache in my heart,
And for that if God exists I’d reckon he’d pay me regard,
Mum says me and you are the same from the start.
…Never Went to Church by The Streets is a good description of the attraction and irrelevance of religion to a grieving atheist. Sometimes it would be nice to have a magic want to make things alright, but it’s not a practical plan for dealing with the problem. The opening of the song is barbed towards Christianity, but the ending is has a positive message about what we leave behind.
I thought I’d return to the Eurovision Song Contest as I promised last May. The 2006 contest was entertaining, but as they have been for a long while now the Germans were underappreciated in my opinion. It’s the Germans who have saved Eurovision.
Guildo Horn being a superhero
Voting-wise there’s not a lot of hope for the coming contest. There’ll be the usual claims of the Balkan states acting as a bloc to vote each other into the final. The reason for this is the Greece-Cyprus axis. The usual defence that the broadcasters from the two countries offer is that it’s simply that they share the same language, and if Turkey were to enter a Greek song then there’s every chance Cyprus would give twelve points to them. This theory has been tested. Greece entered a dirge, mainly in English into the contest recently and it still got twelve points from Cyprus. There have been some great songs from Greece, but only the band’s mothers — and the Cypriots could say S.A.G.A.P.O. was one of them. What Greece and Cyprus do isn’t different to many other votes cast. It’s simply they were the first to eliminate talent from the voting process and they’re the best at it. Continue reading →
Above is Daz Sampson’s Teenage Life, the UK entry for Eurovision 2006. It could be a classic this year. Finland have sent Lordi, Germany have sent their best entry since Stefan Raab (inventor of wok racing) with Texas Lightning. Iceland’s entry Congratulations by Silvia Night included a line which may, or may not be, “The vote is in, I’ll f*****g win”. Sadly it didn’t get past the semi-final being as it was beaten by Armenia and 22 other countries. It didn’t work for Cliff Richard either — he came second when he sang Congratulations.
I’m wary of making predictions because voting in the Eurovision is so variable. I’ll stick my neck out and say that Cyprus might give Greece 12 points this year. There’s something about the Greek entry with year that might go down well with the Cypriote public.
It’s usual when the British entry does badly to blame block voting by small countries. There’s also broader political influence as well. Jemini lost out in 2003, scoring zero in the aftermath of the Iraq invasion, which I thought was unfair. When you listen to the performance impartially then really you can only come to the conclusion that it’s a shame you can’t give out negative points. They said the performance was off-key due to technical glitches. Yet on some notes they weren’t merely off-key but off-crowbar too whilst trying to break into the Mansion of Melody.
There’s an interview with Daz Sampson on YouTube. I saw him on News24 as well yesterday. I agree with him, one reason for some poor UK results is that we’ve sent some terrible stuff. Recently the UK and some other countries have sent aural wallpaper. If the fun entries do well this year then hopefully there’ll be more to watch at Eurovision than the voting.
If you’ve ever wanted to memorise the first nine digits of pi then you’re in luck. Inkycircus points to a video by Hard ‘n’ Phirm extolling the joys of pi. There’s even a rap bit which tells you how to memorise them backwards if you live in Quebec.
When ink and pen in hands of men inscribe your form bipedally,
They draw an altar on which God has slaughtered all stability.
No eyes could ever soak in all the places you anoint,
And yet to see you all at once we only need the point.
Flirting with infinity, your geometric progeny,
That fit inside you oh so tight,
With triangles that feel so right.
Your ever-constant homily says flaw is discipline.
The patron saint of imperfection frees us from our sin,
And if our transcendental lift shall find a final floor,
Then Man will know the death of God where wonder was before.
…and then because there’s a rap that’s where the pi-related swearing starts.
It’s poetry. You can tell it’s poetry because it rhymes which is nine-tenths of poetry as far as I’m concerned. When I finally get round to reading Stephen Fry’s Ode Less Travelled I might have a more intelligent opinion on poetry, but for now I’ll stick with my stupid one. The song closes with over 170 digits of pi, so if you memorise the lyrics you’ll have all the pi you need.
The thing that bothered me in school is that pi is the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter. So how do you calculate pi accurately? You simply cannot measure a circle accurately enough (if you could find a perfect circle). If the Earth’s orbit were perfectly circular and you could measure it to millimetre accuracy you still wouldn’t reach twenty decimal places. So where do you get 200 million from? Mathworld gives you various ways to calculate it.
Kraftwerk have just released a new live album Minimum Maximum which pretty much underlines the obvious. They’re geniuses. Live albums can be awful, with the band dropping the guitar, singing off key or at their worst taking the opportunity for terminal drum solos to see if the song can outlive a fair proportion of the audience. This is the only album I know of where people complain that a track, Autobahn, is a mere nine minutes long, rather than the twenty-two it was on the original album.
In terms of influence they’re the electronic Beatles. A new band could carve out a successful career ripping off their works. This isn’t just true of eighties bands, compare The Robots to Daft Punk’s recent Robot Rock.
The common complaint by poodle-rockers is that electronic music lacks soul. Listening to Trans-Europe Express whilst travelling, even if it’s into Leicester, is an awesome experience. I can’t imagine Bön Jovi capturing the eurphoria of adding and subtracting like Kraftwerk can on Pocket Calculator. And then very few bands could also pull off something with the fragile beauty of Neon Lights.