My head has just exploded


Rockabye Baby have a lul­laby ver­sion of Lullaby by The Cure. If you’ve not heard of Rockabye Baby they’re repack­aged ver­sions of hits slowed down to more som­no­lent pace.

Except for the ver­sions of Coldplay songs obviously.

If you haven’t heard any of them there’s plenty to choose from by search­ing YouTube for Rockabye Baby. My favour­ites include:
Queen Under Pressure Rockabye Baby! Under Pressure Queen
Smashing Pumpkins Today Rockabye Baby! — Lullaby Renditions of Smashing Pumpkins — Today
and Nirvana Smells Like Teen Spirit Rockabye Baby Lullaby Renditions of Nirvana — Smells Like Teens Spirit which will give babies night­mares to scar them for the rest of their lives.

Other bands covered include U2, Metallica, the Smiths and Guns ‘n’ Roses.

and I’m not jok­ing about Coldplay not being slowed down. Rockabye Baby! Lullaby Renditions of Coldplay — Clocks


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The Christmas Number One


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.

The Atheist equivalent of Christian Rock


I sup­press a shud­der at the pro­spect of an athe­ist equi­val­ent of Christian rock. Please, no.”

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.

Why is it an issue? It’s because some people think that it’s not true that the Devil has the best tunes. See Secular Music @ Rupture the Rapture and Has the best tunes? @ Why Don’t You Blog for more.

How the Germans saved Eurovision


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

It’s the cultural high point of the year


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.



Hard 'n' Phirm

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 Wikipedia entry on Piphilology has this nice poem:

Sir, I send a rhyme excel­ling,
in sac­red truth and rigid spelling,
numer­ical sprites elu­cid­ate,
for me the lexicon’s dull weight.

which encodes the first twenty-one digits. But that’s no help if you want to mem­or­ise pi backwards.

Because pi is an irra­tional num­ber you can find any finite sequence of num­bers in it if you look hard enough. You can (prob­ably) find your birth­day in the first 200 mil­lion digits of pi.

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.

Isn’t Kraftwerk Wonderful?


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.

But most won­der­ful of all they have proper hair­cuts. Who cares if they’re not in the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame? They’re too good for that.

A band with proper haircuts.
A band with a proper haircut.

…and now I’ve dis­covered you can’t link to audio clips at Amazon. Ho hum.