Battle of the Backstreet Boys singles

‘Any vehicle that conveys great songs and the ability to perform them, whether it’s ‘N Sync or the Backstreet Boys or One Direction, is all good – Tommy Mottola

It’s been a good few months since I indulged in my favourite pastime (if you don’t include drinking wine) and this is a post I’ve been meaning to write up since Meagan and I had the initial discussion in Vegas back in March.

We were sitting in our hotel room dissecting the amazing Backstreet Boys live show we’d just seen and discussing the setlist, every song we talked about would be followed by a comment by me along the lines of ‘hmm yeah that wasn’t the strongest on that album’ or ‘I never was overly keen on that one’ which sparked Meagan to say in exasperation ‘so which of their songs do you actually like?’

She had a good point. It’s not that I don’t like their singles, of course I do, I am just of the belief that they never release the best songs. Perhaps it’s just that their biggest hits have been so overplayed that I’m a little bit over them, or perhaps it’s that they always seemed to take the safe choice and release the most marketable tunes. Whatever it is, I stand by my opinion that, single wise, they’ve very often sold themselves short.

So let’s have a look back on what they actually released compared to what they could have released instead, and see how different it all could have been:

Album: Backstreet Boys

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Single: We’ve Got it Goin’ On:
Could have been: I Wanna Be With You
Hit or miss: Hit – as far as a debut single goes, it couldn’t have been anything other than this, it was after all, the song that started the long dark round back into the boyband ether I fell into in 1995 (and still haven’t really clawed my way out yet!) so I have to give them this one. I do love I Wanna Be With You though…

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Single: I’ll Never Break Your Heart
Could have been: Anything else as far as I’m concerned
Hit or Miss: Massive miss for me. I’ve never EVER liked this song mainly because too much cheese gives me migraines and it’s been my toilet break song at every live song since. A better ballad from that album would have been Darlin’ at a push. But if I never hear this song again for the rest of my life I wouldn’t share any tears (I did love all the knitwear in the original video though however – cosy!)

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Single: Get Down
Could have been: Let’s Have a Party
Hit or Miss: Hit – I’m on the fence with this one and it’s only just scraping through as a hit to be honest. It was similar enough to We’ve Got it Goin On to keep the uptempo fans (like me) happy and Let’s Have a Party was equally as cheesy to be fair so would have been a close call. Quite a forgettable single in the grand scheme of things, in fact I’m sure it scored 0 on Pointless once, which says a lot.

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Single: Quit Playing Games
Could have been: I Wanna Be With You
Hit or Miss: Hit – Seems I really wanted them to release I Wanna Be With You but understand why it never really made the cut. QPG definitely falls into the overplayed category for me however when I first got their debut album it was the one song that I could hum along to the soonest, so an obviously choice as a single. Plus every 14 years fan was thankful for the music video.

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Single: Anywhere for You
Could have been: Just to Be Close To You
Hit or Miss: Miss – they never even bothered to release it in US which speaks volumes. It always felt like a pity release because they didn’t have anything new so I was surprised to see it brought back for their Vegas residency. Even Nick and Brian looked embarrassed singing it. Just to Be Close To You was a way classier song and all their acapella awesomeness would have been brought to the masses.

Album: Backstreet’s Back

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Single: Everybody (Backstreet’s Back)
Could have been: That’s The Way I Like It
Hit or Miss: Hit – While That’s The Way I Like It is one of, if not my ALL TIME FAVOURITE BSB SONG EVER I can’t deny them their signature song can I? On a recent night out they played Everybody twice (in different bars) it’s what the people want and a world without drunk people trying to do the dance routine isn’t one I want to live in.

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Single: As Long As You Love Me
Could have been: That’s The Way I Like It
Hit or Miss – Miss – after releasing Everybody I thought releasing ALAYLM was a safe choice and yes the chair routine was impressive, and I can’t confirm nor deny whether I sprained my ankle trying to recreate it in my living room when I was 15. I think releasing That’s The Way I Like it would have surprised people, and kept the uptempo momentum of Everybody going.

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Single: All I Have to Give
Could have been: Set Adrift on Memory Bliss
Hit or Miss – Miss – All I Have To Give isn’t a bad song, it’s a just a bit meh, and as well as being a grammatical nightmare (‘does his gifts come from the heart?’ – well does they?!) it’s too similar to ALAYLM and two mid tempo singles in a row is just lazy. Set Adrift… is in no way a fan favourite, and I understand they didn’t want to release a cover version however apart from the name and the hook it’s almost a totally different song to the original. Set Adrift is just super summery and relaxed – and I love it. But no one ever listens to me…

Album: Millennium

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Single: I Want It That Way
Could have been: Don’t Wanna Lose You Now
Hit or Miss: Hit – I actually think Don’t Wanna Lose You Now is a better song however (even my dad agreees – it’s his favourite BSB song ever) IWITW is probably joint signature song along with Everybody so I can’t take that out of the running. It was the final song played at my wedding and all our friends and family danced and sang along before we all collapsed in a heap so it holds a special place in my heart. However that said it does also fall into the ‘over it’ category sometimes and I love Don’t Wanna Lose You Now so much I would hate to ever be over that too.

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Single: Larger than Life
Could have been: It’s Gotta Be You
Hit or Miss: Hit – Larger than Life has also been one of the strongest singles of their for me, even my metal loving mate Janine loves the guitar solo bit in it. A very strong pop song which no one can deny. I do Love It’s Gotta be You as well, but don’t think it would have worked as well as a single.

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Single: Show Me The Meaning of Being Lonely
Could have been: Back To Your Heart
Hit or Miss: Miss – much like All I Have To Give, it’s not a bad song, it’s just a bit ‘boyband by numbers’ and a bit meh, plus the lyrics make little to no sense whatsoever. Back To Your Heart is a much MUCH better ballad form Millennium – the lyrics are constructed in coherent sentences and everything!

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Single: The One
Could have been: Don’t Want You Back
Hit or Miss: Miss – another lazy single for the sake of being a single that they threw out because they were too busy on tour. Don’t Want You Back is an amazing song and would have been bloody brilliant and a single. But maybe this is why I don’t work in A&R

Album: Black and Blue

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Single: Shape of My Heart
Could have been: The Answer to Our Life
Hit or miss: Miss – Meagan will kill me for this as Shape of My Heart is her all time fave however it’s just predictable to me and smacks of I Want it That Way version 2. I surprised The Answer to Our Life was never a single regardless of else was released, to me it’s their signature but just way more upbeat and catchy and would have produced a fun music video.

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Single: The Call
Could have been: Shining Star
Hit or Miss: Hit – finally! They start releasing something a little more edgy! I love The Call, and particularly love the Neptunes remix which was also released along with the single. Shining Star would have served the same purpose; provided a much needed urban/r’n’b element to their back catalogue but in my humble opinion it’s not a very good song at all and would have been panned by the critics as them trying too hard (and they’d have been right).

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Single: More Than That
Could have been: Yes I Will
Hit or Miss: Neutral – I’m completely torn with this one as if depends on what the rules are. If we’re swapping out like for like and More Than That needs to be replaced with another ballad then it’s absolutely the right choice as Black & Blue is too cheesy ballad heavy for my liking. However if it can be swapped out for anything then Get Another Boyfriend, Everyone or Not for Me are all brilliant songs which would have made brilliant singles.

Album: Never Gone

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Single: Incomplete
Could have been: Safest Place to Hide
Hit or Miss: Hit – I’ve always been a lover of the uptempo songs over the ballads however Incomplete is the exception that proves the rule because it’s probably my second favourite all time BSB song. Never Gone is an underrated album in my opinion actually, it’s moved away from the cheese of Black & Blue and although there are lots of ballads, they have a more acoustic, classy feel. AJ’s voice sounds particularly brilliant on this too.

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Single: Just Want You To Know
Could have been: My Beautiful Woman
Hit or Miss: Miss – don’t get me wrong it’s a strong song and the music video is hilarious however while they were making a small change in musical direction with this album, releasing Just Want You To Know felt like a step backwords. My Beautiful Woman is a brilliant song and would have made a brilliant uptempo single to follow Incomplete.

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Single: I Still…
Could have been: Climbing The Walls
Hit or Miss: Miss – this was never released in the UK so it kind of passed me by as a single but there’s a music video for it so it makes the cut! It’s a good song and a strong one off the album but I heavily prefer Climbing the Walls over this and always wished they would release it when I first heard the album. It was really cool to hear them singing with real instruments for a change and whilst I would miss their dance routine laden videos, it was a reminder how strong their voices really are.

Album: Unbreakable

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Single: Inconsolable
Could have been: Something That I Already Know
Hit or Miss: Miss – I was surprised they were so comfortable releasing a song called Inconsolable, only 3 songs after releasing a song called Incomplete and I’d be lying If I said that’s where the similarities ended as well. It’s not a bad song by any means but again feels like boyband by numbers and Something That I Already Know has an edgier pop-rock feel and is brilliant for wailing along to in the car. So I hear.

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Single: Helpless When She Smiles
Could have been: Trouble Is
Hit or Miss: Miss – CHEESY LYRIC ALERT *She opens up just like a rose to me when she’s close to me*  please! There are so many good uptempo songs on this album; Everything But Mine, Panic or Treat Me Right would have all made strong singles rather than releasing yet another ballad. Even Trouble Is – also a ballad – had a country twist to it which would feel like a break from the old routine.

Album: This is Us

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Single: Straight Through My Heart
Could have been: Bye Bye Love
Hit or Miss: Hit – clearly on the Redone band wagon that was all around in 2009 (not that that’s a bad thing) this Gaga induced song is strong and and underrated favourite of mine. I LOVE Brian’s voice at during the first verse and although it loses it a bit in chorus where it all goes a bit teenpop, it’s no weaker than another One Direction or JLS were releasing at the same time. Dare I say they seemed to be having more fun without Kevin….?

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Single: Bigger
Could have been: This is Us
Hit or Miss: Hit – massive MASSIVE hit! I adore this song so much and it should have done way better commercially than it did. As mentioned above I think they suffered a bit from the influx of younger, more current bands and they lost their place in the charts a little bit however had this song (and in fact whole album) been released by someone else, it would have been huge which is a huge shame. I would have loved to have seen more singles released off this album; Undone, Shattered and If I Knew Then are all great songs.

Album: In A World Like This

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Single: In A World Like This
Could have been: Feels Like Home
Hit or Miss: Miss – I get the sentiment, it’s crazy times we live in these days and sometimes all we need to know is that we’ll always have our favourite 5 boys (now Kevin’s returned) singing to us on top of a mountain about how it’s all going to be ok. I just think it’s a medicore song. I really like Feels Like Home, it’s a little on the cheesy side, but that’s never stopped these lads before. And they probably could have been more adventurous with the video too.

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Single: Show ‘Em What You’re Made of
Could have been: Try
Hit or Miss: Hit – feels like classic BSB when they were at the top of their game. It ties in with the movie documentary that was released at the same time and was a slow burner of a a song for me but I absolutely love it now and always find myself listening to it for a little pick me up when I feel I need a lyrical kick up the bum. Plus the music video is um, very tastefully and artistically done (absolutely not full of gratuitous shirtless shots).

So actually when I sit down and think about it, it’s a pretty even split with out of 24 songs 11 are a hit, 12 are a miss and one I’m on the fence about however I think when a band are releasing singles they should release their best stuff all the time, there should only be one or two misses tops. That’s just my opinion though and you can’t please all the people all the time.

I mean, I’m sure there are fans out there who will swear I’ll Never Break Your Heart is the best song ever written and recorded. I mean they’d be wrong, but I’m sure they’re out there!

Backstreet Boys – Larger than Life in Las Vegas!

‘Bacstreet’s back, alright and this time they’re appealing to everyone’ – Meagan Morris

Back in the late 90s and early 00s the internet was a scary place, so imagine my parents shock when I tell them I’m taking a train to London to meet someone I met in a chat room so we can hang out and talk about boybands for the day? I’m amazed still to this day they let me go! I’m so pleased they did though because that day marked the beginning of an amazing friendship.

For years Meagan and I have wanted to see the group that made us so close together but for whatever reason could never make it work logistically. When The Backstreet Boys announced they were doing a trial residency in Las Vegas we knew we had to make it happen. Those boys aren’t getting any younger and we didn’t know when we would get the chance again.

It’s hard to review a concert of your all time favourite band with one of your all time favourite people objectively but i’m going to try….

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It was fucking amazing! They were seriously, seriously good. Between the two fo us we’ve seen them live about 11 times and we both agreed that their Vegas show was one of the most professional, polished show they’ve done.

Before I run out of adjectives to describe how amazing they were i’ll give you a run down of what actually happened. They took to the stage just after 9pm after a really cool remix of all their singles/music videos on the large screens, you forget how many songs they’ve released really! And kicked everything off looking dapper in white with Larger than Life. I won’t run through everything song by song (check out the set list at the bottom if you’re interested) but needless to say they got the crowd’s energy up as they went from one up tempo pop hit to the next.

Show highlights for me were As Long As You Love me, which was never my favourite single but they nailed the chair routine all these years later, We’ve Got it Goin On (which is one of my faves) which they updated and mashed up excellently with Bell Biv Devoe’s Poison and the fact that they included 2 of my favourite album tracks Undone and Get Another Boyfriend.

ALAYLM #chairdance #bsbvegas

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Meagan’s show highlighters were – the montage in the beginning which sounds weird but it got everyone amped for the show. Their version of We’ve Got it On was probably her favourite performance of the night because of the dancing and Shape of my Heart of course which is her all time favourite BSB song. They also came out into the audience and Howie was right in front of us, like touching distance from us, so it doesn’t get much better than that.

QPG #bsbvegas

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Fans will be aware of the recent voice issues that Brian has been struggling but they all killed it, singing completely live through the whole 2 hour show and Brian in particular sounded better than he ever has. They dancing was also super tight and the 10 dancers that joined them on stage were fantastic. The staging worked brilliantly in Planet Hollywood and there appeared to be no real bad seat in the house. We were sitting at the front of the first ‘normal priced’ seating, directly behind the ‘pit’ and VIP seating (we paid about £140 a ticket if you were wondering) and the view was amazing. It also helped that there were catwalks and walkways coming out into the audience so people further back had a better change of getting a good view

When I was bored in Heathrow waiting for my super delayed flight I did what I swore I wouldn’t do and I looked up the set list ahead of time. I was a little disappointed to be honest. I’ve said from the beginning of time that they never release the best songs off their albums (there’s a blog post in there somewhere) and with only 3 of the 20 strong set list being album tracks, they weren’t singing hardly any of my faves. HOWEVER (and this a big however, I wrote it in caps and everything) Whilst their singles may not be my favourites, there’s no denying their singalongability and their gravitational pull to get everyone in the room joining in and having an amazing time. Which made me have an amazing time, so no set list complaints for me any more!

Rocking our bodies right! #bsbvegas

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If i were to pick any holes (because the cynic in me jut has to find fault in everything) the second costume change (of which there were 4) bordered into boring territory where they sang too many ballads back to back in my opinion, although I’m  pleased my obligatory I’ll Never Break Your Heart toilet break came early in the show as my $24 Margarita was starting to work it’s way through. It also felt that they were racing through the set list a little bit and didn’t talk or interact with the audience very much. I get it though, they need to cater for everyone, not just fans like us who’d moved mountains to be there, but also for people who were in Vegas anyway and just fancied seeing them on a whim.

They’re just really minor points though and didn’t detract from the show at all. I’ll admit we were both dubious when we found out they were doing a Vegas residency. It felt like it was pretty ambitious for a group for the majority of common folk are only really known for one or two songs. However never under estimate the power of the Backstreet army as by all accounts it’s been a roaring success. Time will tell whether they lose momentum by the end of their run in July and whether it will be extended further, here’s hoping they do, although I’m not entirely sure my credit card could take it!

I really wanted to avoid using this chiche but Backstreet aren’t back, for us, and the majority of the people in the Axis theatre, they never left. Alright!

Set list:

Larger than Life
The One
Get Down
Drowning
Incomplete
Quit Playing Games
Show Me The Meaning Of Being Lonely
I’ll Never Break Your Heart
Anywhere For You
Darlin
Undone
As Long as You Love Me
The Call
We’ve Got it Goin’ On
Get Another Boyfriend
More than That
All I Have to Give
Shape of My Heart
I Want It That Way
Everybody (Backstreet’s Back)

 

 

10 of the Best: Modern Music Documentaries

‘I think documentaries are the greatest way to educate and entire generation that doesn’t often look back to learn anything about the history that provided a safe haven for so many of us today’ – Steven Spielberg

Some Kind of Monster (2004)

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Metallica seem to go into a tailspin after bassist Jason Newstead quits so they decide to go into group therapy to try and work through their problems. It’s clear from the beginning they have some serious issues. lead singer James Hetfield is an utter control freak, insisting that nothing is recorded or even discussed without him being present. This clearly winds up the rest of the band, particularly drummer Lars Ulrich and they clash frequently. Things become even more tense when Hetfield enters rehab for alcoholism and the bands future is put on hold for an uncertain amount of time. The fact they got Dave Mustaine (Megadeth) in to be interviewed and having him bitterly insist that he’s not at all bitter is entertaining and highlights the dysfunction from really early on. An absolute classic music rock doc that has since become the benchmark for all films of this type.

I’m Going To Tell You A Secret (2005)

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Lady M has done quite a few tour docs over the years and Truth or Dare and The behind the scenes footage from the Sticky & Sweet Tour DVD are also worth a watch. For some reason though this one is my favourite. Filmed by acclaimed video director Jonas Åkerlund and follows the entire Re-Invention tour from dancer audition through to the final show. There’s no doubt at all that Madonna runs the entire show, what she says goes no matter how playful and flippant she tries to come across as however much I never want to be in the same room as her there is something that makes her absolutely fascinating. Seeing her with her hen husband (Guy Richie) and kids (Lola and Rocco) is sweet and certainly seems to have been genine affection between the couple at time, which I guess makes it even more interesting. I saw her live in 2012 on the MDNA tour which was spectacular so seeing how such a large scale production comes together is a must for any pop music fan.

Shut Up and Sing (2006)

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Following the the aftermath of Natalie Maines’ now infamous comment that she was ashamed that George Bush was from Texas this follows that immediate fallout, the firestorm of hostility from country radio and the quite frankly disturbing comments from fans who claimed Maines should be muredered for her comments. The film follows the bands reaction to the backlash, how they are treated at subsequent tour dates in the Bible Belt States (people holding up banners saying ‘I, only here because I couldn’t get a refund’ and how they stand by each other through all the abuse they all get while they go on to record their next album and prepare to tour again. Some of the comments made by local news anchors at the time are shocking ‘they deserve to be smacked around’ said one but its inspiring how they refuse to apologise for expressing an opinion and how the majority of their fans do actually stand by them in the end.

Michael Jackson – This Is It (2009)

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I was destined never to see this man perform. Having been a lifelong MJ fan Janine and I snapped up tickets to see him the third week of performances in London. Then he cancelled the 1st week, so our week became the second week. Then he died. I’m SO pleased this film was released because I think it shut up all the critics for a while. Before he died there were rumours of ill health, which obviously his imminent death proved semi true, but looking at the footage, to me he looked fit and healthy and in great shape. What makes me so sad watching this film is seeing how brilliant the show would have been had they gone ahead. It shows, that personal life aside, what a true performer he was and how much creative input he had. He knows his songs inside out and knows how his fans want to see them performed. Let’s me honest, people either love him or hate him so this is very much a film for the fans. It’s such a great shame I will now never get to see him perform but at least with this film I can pretend for an hour or so!

Bon Jovi: When We Were Beautiful (2009)

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Shot to celebrate their 25 year anniversary and filmed in the run up to staging a free concert in Central Park in New York this is an interesting look into one of the worlds biggest rock bands. You don’t need to be a fan to stay interested; in fact if you’re not a fan Jon Bon Jovi’s maddening arrogance and pure douchebaggery will entertain you. For me it’s infuriating and quotes like ‘I’m the CEO of Bon Jovi inc’ and ‘I’ll be damned if I let the drummers wife tell me when I go on tour’ had me wanting to throw my laptop out the window. However the interviews with the other members are insightful, funny, articulate and touching. They make more than make up for Jon by coming across as genuine down to earth guys with genuine affection for each other. It’s also all shot in black and white so it’s all arty and classy and that.

Beats, Rhymes & Life: The Travels of a Tribe Called Quest (2011)

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Follows the classic documentary format and proving that to move forward sometimes you have to go back. This film follows ATCQ from their formation in high school to their disbanding in 2008 and then just keeps going. All members are present and correct to give their side of the story and a plethora of classic hip hop artists wade in on one of the most iconic rap groups of my generation including The Beastie Boys, De La Soul. Pharrell Williams to name but a few. A Tribe Called Quest have always been one of favourite 90s groups and their debut album People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm would be very close if not in my top ten albums of all time. The film does an excellent job chronicling their career, their penchant for creating ‘party records with a conscience’ but also the fractions within the group, particularly the clash of egos between Phife Dawg and Q-Tip. I guarantee watching this will make you nostalgic for a hip hop life pre-Kanye.

 Katy Perry – Part of Me (2012)

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I’ve never let it be a secret that I’m much more Team Katy than I am Team Taylor; there’s just something infinitely more likable than that blonde skinny drink of water. Whereas this essentially is a tour documentary movie (big woop) and it does start off that way, lots of glitzy high energy polished concert footage and screaming tweenagers. However it also does delve a little bit deeper as the film progresses and captures on camera the breakdown of Katy’s marriage to Russell Brand, which, I’ll be honest, is pretty heart breaking. How she manages to put a smile on her face and perform the night she gets ‘the text’ when he files for divorce I’ll never know. Of course many cynics will arguing that the emphasis put on her marriage to Brand was a away of selling the movie to gossip hungry celebophiles like myself, and that my be true, doesn’t make it any less interesting though!

Amy (2015)

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It’s really easy it sit and say that Amy Winehouses’ story is tragic and heartbreaking and sad while it is all of those things, what struck me mst about this documentary is that no one stood up and said ‘you know what, I could have helped her and I didn’t’. Everyone seems to blame someone else and that’s what I find saddest of all about the whole thing.  She was clearly extremely gifted from a young age and seeing archive footage of a young Amy singing with her friends is really interesting. It’s also a refreshing reminder that if you have genuine, bonafide talent, then that will always win out over a super polished, washboard abbed pop startlet. Amy always was a reluctant pop star, all she ever wanted was to sing jazz and as the story unfolds it becomes less and less a tale about a fallen idol and more and more an anti drug movie. Anyone who thinks popstars glamourise drug use should watch this film, ain’t nothing glamorous about it.

Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck (2015)

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Lots of documentaries about fallen stars seemed to come out in 2015. This is the first documentary that the Cobain family have played any part in and the fact that Kurt’s mom and ex band mate Krist Novoselic are featured heavily throughout the film is testament to that. It doesn’t dig too deeply by way of explaining Kurt’s descent into drug use other than his parents split up when he was younger. As the film progresses though, Kurt meets Courtney and their drug use gets worse, some of the home footage of their life is truly shocking. Stories like these always fascinate me, bands seem to work so hard writing music performing in shitty bars just trying to make it, then when they do they not happy and just piss it all away on drugs and alcohol. Some of the poetry and raw demos that provide the films soundtrack gets quite shouty and annoying after a while but this is a must see for anyone who likes their rock stars damaged. They don’t get much more damaged than Kurt.

Show ‘Em What You’re Made Of (2015)

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I couldn’t have a music documentary list without including y favourite boys! This was filmed over a 2 year period from recording their In a World Like This album to the subsequent world tour to support it and all the drama in between. Having said that it’s more about reminiscing that it is a tour documentary and while it’s really interesting to hear them talk about all the legal troubles they’ve had, and how they coped being in a boyband when they really wanted to be rock stars, I can’t help but feel it’s nothing real hardcore fans didn’t already know. It would have been nice to hear more about AJ and Nicks drug and alcohol problems for example however it is a very interesting inside into the corrupt world of the 90s pop world and you learn how to say ‘will you give me a blowjob’ thanks to Kevin so, you know, it’s pretty educational!

 

Now That’s What I Call Nostalgia

‘Nostalgia is a file that removes the rough edges from the good old days’ – Doug Larson

There’s something about the autumn that makes me start to feel nostalgic for some reason. Maybe it’s because it reminds me of going back to school, where I didn’t have to wear a uniform (lax army base rules) and got to wear all my new wooly tights from the Grattan catalogue. Or perhaps because it feels like Christmas is round the corner and I get to have loads of friends and family time and drink cava with my mum until we fall over. Either way, when I’m in a nostalgic mood the first thing I do is put some old music on.

Music has always been a massive part of my family’s life. We lived abroad and as such went on regular long car journeys to travel back to England. Thus bore the invention of the ‘car tape’ which was essentially just a mix tape my dad would put together of all our favourite songs to keep us all entertained (with couple by ABC thrown in just to wind my mum up). And as, most of my dad’s tapes were made up of songs recorded from the radio, there are certain songs that when I listen to now, I can still hear Bob Harris talking over the outro or songs my dad had to fade in or out in order to hit them on the end of a tape (it was only recently that I realise Wind of Change by the Scorpions had a 3rd chorus!).

Dad’s ‘Pick of the Year’ tapes were also a firm family favourite, where he would make a compilation cassette of his favourite songs form that year. He stopped in 1992 however, when music got a bit too modern for him. It’s something over the years I’ve tried to carry on, and did for a while but, no one listens to CDs anymore and they don’t have the same impact as mp3 playlists. I’ve often thought about restarting it all from 1982 on my blog though, and listing all the tracks as YouTube videos, just so I have somewhere to put them all, for prosperity sake. Happy times.

I haven’t really kept any of my old CDs or cassette tapes, slowly through the 00’s I uploaded my entire tape and CD collection to the computer and now have them all as MP3. There were a few CDs I kept for prosperity reasons, my Backstreet Boys CD collect for example signifies years of going straight to Blaze in Cramlington after school on a Monday to pick up (both versions) of their latest single. How could I part with the one thing that exemplifies the only time I’m my life I’ve shown any type of tenacity?!

A veritable collection I'm sure you'll agree!

A veritable collection I’m sure you’ll agree!

My absolute most prized possession in my music collection however is this: My ‘Now That’s What I Call Music 14’ VHS video. I must have watched this video a zillion times back in the 80’s before we had MTV and VH1 (even before the days those channels actually played music videos – that’s how old I am!) Even the songs that in hindsight didn’t turn out to be massive hits (does anyone else but me actually remember ‘All She Wants Is’ by Duran Duran?) are still on my music player to this day and, not that they come around that often as I tend to have all my 4000 songs on shuffle, but when they do, I smile a little and remember pausing the video every 20 seconds to write down the lyrics to Buffalo Stance.

A couple of years ago I downloaded the entire ‘Now That’s What I Call Music’ back catalogue (number 92 is due for release on 20 November 2015) and I buy each new one that comes out, although it’s all digital now of course. I’d seen an advert for the new CD and it made me nostalgic for my old precious video that once meant so much to me. In the past I’ve often thought about selling it, as some kind of prehistoric artefact from the 80’s but you can already get one on ebay for about a tenner, and I think my fondness for this old VHS, even though I have no device on which to play it, is worth more than that.

So for memories sake, here are the songs that feature on that video and some of the questions their videos raised in my 6 year old mind:

1. Neneh Cherry – Buffalo Stance

I genuinely thought Neneh Cherry was a group consisting of two women who looked vaguely similar (one with her hair up and one with her hair down) and the male DJ. I wasn’t the most astute six  year old it has to be said.

2. Marc Almod & Gene Pitney – Something’s Gotten Hold Of My Heart

Me and my brother used to duet on this song and we would argue over who got to be Marc Almond because neither of us wanted to be the old guy. Oh how we laugh about that now!

3. Erasure – Stop

Never was my favourite video on the, er video but loved the song. Always felt sorry for Vince Clarke, he looks like he’s embarrassed to be there, although if Andy Bell was dancing round in front of me like I’d look embarrassed too!

4. Bananrama – Help

I asked my mum who they other 3 ladies on the video were (Jennifer Saunders, Dawn French and Kathy Burke) and my mum said they Bananarama’s friends and I thought how nice it was they’d ask their friends to be in the video. The concept of the Charity Single was obviously something I was yet to grasp.

5. Hue & Cry – Looking for Linda

So many questions; did they ever find Linda? Why didn’t he just phone Linda’s mum? Why doesn’t he wait until it stops raining to look for her?  Why was she spending £35 on one pack of CD’s?

6. Roy Orbison – You Got It

When I asked my then 9 year old brother why old Roy was wearing sunglasses inside he confidently told me it was because he was blind. Moral of that story, don’t believe everything your 9 year old brother says no matter how much authority he speaks with.

7. Fine Young Cannibals – She Drives Me Crazy

My mum always says that this song reminds her of me because I was apparently a rather rambunctious child, hard as that maybe to believe. That’s nice isn’t it?

8. Duran Duran – All She Wants Is

Best song The Durans ever did in my opinion, and I was always amazed at how clever it was they got the floating lips at the end of the video, CGI at its finest I think we can all agree.

9. INXS – I Need You Tonight

More questions: why is Michael’s hair so long? Why aren’t the rest of the band in the video very much? What’s he done wrong to be put behind bars? What the mouse all about and (more of an observation than a question) if he’s wearing that leather jacket without a t-shirt underneath he’ll be freezing when he goes outside.

10. Then Jerico – Big Area

In hindsight I’m not entirely sure it was appropriate for Mark Shaw to be singing about his Big Area to a six year old girl. That was lost on me though, this was my favourite song on the video, and absolutely 80’s Classic

11. Morrisey – Last of the Famous International Playboys

I never really knew if Morrisey was the singer or the lead guy in the video or the same person with different hair (see Neneh Cherry above). I think I quite fancied the floppy haired lad in the video and very much appreciated his dancing

12. Simple Minds – Bealfast Child

I genuinely believed the boy in the video was Jim Kerr’s son, and they were from Belfast, why else would would you have a song called Belfast Child unless it was about your child from Belfast? 6 year old logic right there ladies and gents!

13. Inner City – Good Life

I loved Paris Grey’s hat in this video, loved it! She looked like she was having such a good time in it dancing round the streets of London in it. It also made me laugh how all the people in the street are looking at her like ‘ooh Jeff look, that lady’s filming something’ and I’m unsure that guy with the accordion is completely aware he’s being filmed at all.

14. Phil Collins – Two Hearts

My lasting memories of this video were the amazement of how they managed to get 3 other actors who looked exactly like Phil Collins and if that’s a Galaxy Ripple he’s eating at the beginning I hope it doesn’t give him a dry throat like it does me.

15. Sam Brown – Stop 

Shoulder pads? Check! Red lippy? Check! bleached blonde hair? Check! Eyebrows dark as sin? Check! Must be the 80’s! To be honest I usually never watched this video all that often, how do you follow Phil? Plus if i was having to rewind anyway, if i skipped this I didn’t have to rewind as far. Soz Sam, if it’s any consolation this version is better than Jamelia’s!

10 of the Best: Live Performances

‘There’s nothing better than live music. It’s raw energy, and raw energy feeds the soul’ – Dhani Jones

When I was 15 I think like most 15 year olds I dreamed of being a popstar and would spend ages in my room making up dance routines to all my favourite Spice Girls/All Saints/BSB (delete as appropriate) songs. I also used to try and put together set lists of what my live shows would look like, so needless to say, live performances are something I’ve always had an interest in. Now that we live in the age of youtube I’m able to watch over all my favourite live performances frommy youth (as well as pick up some new ones) any time I like. So here’s a list of my 10 favourite:

TLC – No Scrubs (VMA’s 1999)

1999 was a good year for live performances as you’ll find out as you read on. Mostly because there were some great pop songs released that year. I’d never seen TLC perform anything other than on Top of the Pops where I have a strong suspicion they were miming so I love this performance which is full of sass, attitude and you get to see them seriously bust a moved at the end!

Britney Spears – Baby One More Time/Crazy (EMA’s 1999)

You can’t really have a list of live performances without Britney can you really? She’s had some corkers in her time so there were lots to choose from but in the end I had to go with this one, as this was the only one that I video taped and watched over and over again trying to copy the dance routine. It was also one of the first time’s I’d seen anyone perform a mash up of two songs, sheltered as my upbringing was!

Backstreet Boys – Everybody / We’ve Got It Going On / That’s The Way I Like It (Millennium Tour 2000)

As I said before I love a mashup and was lucky to see this twice with my own teenage eyes as it was at the height of my BSB obsession. I thought only performing the first verse and chorus of two of their biggest songs was very brave but the 3 songs together works really well. It came at a point in the show after two ballads so really got the energy back up again. I also love a show performed in the round and they make use of the stage really well.

Lemar and Jamelia – Addicted to Love (Brit Awards 2005)

This kind of fell into the annuls of my mind for a while but when I started looking into some of my favourite live performances for this post I came across this one again and remembered how much I loved it at the time. Neither Lemar or Jamelia do much musically anymore but I think you’ll agree they sound amazing live. Their chemistry together isn’t the greatest but it’s a great version of the Robert Palmer classic and Jamelia’s legs are absolutely insane!

Madonna – Vogue (Sticky & Sweet Tour 2008)

Madonna is my absolute live idol and much like Britney I had a lot of performances to chose from. I went for this for a couple of reasons, 1. because it’s an absolutely brilliant sing, which I don’t think anyone can deny and 2. she’s done something different with it. The backing track has been changed and instead of just doing the iconic dance routine in the video she’s updated it a little bit, which is why she’s so brilliant really!

Boa – Energetic (Live Tour 2010)

I love this girl, like really love her, she’s all the best bits of Britney without being dead behind the eyes. I discovered her on Last.fm (this very song incidentally) just as she was about to release her first English album. She’s quite possibly the best dancer who’s out currently and everything she does looks effortless. Although this is quite a dancey track and isn’t going to win any Ivor Novello’s for lyrics. she still sounds pretty good live despite all the bouncing around.

Tinie Tempah (Brit Awards 2011)

I was only half watching the Brits in 2011 and Tinie came on and started this performance. It made me stop what I was doing and pay attention. He just looked and sounded so cool with this onslaught of energy! So much so that we booked tickets to see him on tour the following year (I really am a marketers dream!). Shame really as the tour wasn’t nearly as good as this one performance – he had my money by that stage though!

Take That – Kidz (Progress Tour 2011)

I wasn’t happy when Robbie rejoined Take That. I was annoyed with Gray for letting him back after all the nasty things that had been said when Robbie left, and I thought he would completely try and steal the show again. I’m still not a huge Robbie fan, but I concede that this was one of the best tours I’ve seen them on. This performance in particular has everything; Mark on lead, rapping and a dance battle!

Childish Gambino – Heartbeat (Last.fm Sessions 2012)

I would sell almost everything I own to see this guy live. I found him on last.fm with this song too so makes sense that this performance would make the list. I love the energy he has and the animated way he performs. He switches between rapping and singing brilliantly and he still looks cool even in a beige cardigan! If you have chance check out the whole last.fm session if you can, you won’t be disappointed!

Katy Perry – Paris (Radio 1 Live Lounge 2012)

I’ve never made any secret of the fact I’m Team Katy over Team Taylor all the way.She’s everything I love in a popstar without the annoying butter wouldn’t melt America’s Sweetheart attitude. I love that she takes risks, this can’t be the easiest song in the world to perform yet she pulls it off comfortably and as if it’s one of her own tracks. Take note Tay Tay. This is how it’s done!

10 Radom Songs – 30 Day Writing Challenge #22

‘Expose yourself to as much randomness as possible’ – Ben Casnocha 

I love this game and I regularly play it with my friend Chris at work (he’s a hipster who listens to 6 music and thinks he knows his stuff!) I currently have 3234 songs on the music player on the phone so setting it all to shuffle and seeing what comes out is pretty daunting, it could be ANYTHING! Here goes…

1. Elbow – One Day Like This

2. One Direction – You and I

3. Cranberries – Animal Instinct

4. Paradiso Girls – Boys Go Crazy

5. REO Speedwagon – Keep On Loving You

6. Madonna – Ghosttown 

7. Backstreet Boys – Unmistakable

8. Shaggy – It Wasnt Me

9. Madonna – Papa Don’t Preach

10. Matchbox 20 – Leave

I’ll be honest, it could have been a LOT worse, although my music player seems intent on outting me as a secret 1D fan!

10 of the Best: More Brilliant Songs You’ve Probably Never Heard

‘You can never stop discovering music’ – Rashida Jones

Since doing my last blog post about unheard tracks i found myself discovering a load more on my ipod i wish i’d included more, so like any great ‘best ever’ compilation, here’s the sequel!

1. The K.G.B – I’m A Player

Unless you were an eagle-eared watcher of the very first episode of the very first season on The O.C (and that’s probably the only episode I ever saw) then you probably will never have heard this song from Oakland funksters The K.B.G. From checking out their Wiki page it doesn’t look like they really did much before or since so getting this track on a soundtrack was probably  a pretty big deal for them. Shame, It’s a great summer song and (fact fans) was on the first ever mix tape I ever did for my first car. Pimpin.

2. Bachelor Girl – I’m Just A Girl

If Pink and Savage Garden had a musical baby it would be Bachelor Girl. First discovered on holiday in Australia where they had most, if not all of their success. I since bought all of their albums which, if i’m honest are patchy (their song Blown Away is also worth a listen) but this song is such a catchy piece of girl power pop it’s hard not to love. I think it probably would have done really well if it had been released elsewhere or gotten on one of those ‘All Women’ CDs you buy for you mum on Mother’s Day. It’s just a shame the video is a bit shit.

3. Darden Smith – Satellite

Darden is a Texan singer/songwriter and is very much unknown in the UK. He came to my attention via my dad’s insanely obscure music taste and this song from his 2002 album Sunflower. If there’s one thing I’m a sucker for it’s a song that sounds like it should be on the Dawson’s Creek soundtrack. It’s got a really chilled laid back Americana feel (imagine Coldplay but good) and his voice is so smooth it almost distracts from the melancholic lyrics. If I could play guitar, sing, or have any musical ability whatsoever, I would sing this song at open mic nights up and down the country for the rest of my life.

4. Verbalicious – Next Big Me

Before she was Natalia Kills and getting kicked off the New Zealand X-Factor for being a big old meanie she was Verbalicious and had a top 20 UK hit with Don’t Play Nice (which I loved). This was her follow up single which failed to chart but was equally as good in my opinion as she was much more likable when she was doing the cheeky mockney rap thing than the taking herself way too seriously thing. Much like the Louchie Lou & Michie One track in my last similar post so rare is it I’ve had to upload it myself. So download it, and get it on your summer BBQ playlist!

5. Cinderella – Don’t Know What You Got til It’s Gone

When you grow up on a mainland Europe army base you spend a lot of time in the car travelling back and forth to England. Those car journeys were made infinitely better by my dad’s aforementioned amazing taste in music. This has been a firm ‘car classic’ in our family for years and i t’s one of those songs that you know instantly you’re going to love it from hearing the first few bars for the first time. It’s an 80’s power ballad to make Bonnie Tyler hang up her vocal chords with cheesy video to match, although let’s be honest, what’s an 80’s music video without a mulleted dude playing a piano on the edge of a cliff, I ask you?!

6. Veronicas – Born Bob Dylan

Although they only ever really made waves in the UK charts with Untouched, I get the impression the Veronicas are actually doing ok for themselves worldwide and they’re head and shoulders above acts like Haim and Tegan & Sara. My dad (he’s cropping up alot today isn’t he?!) is a massive Bob Dylan fan and i found this song whilst searching for a lyric to tweet as my #lyricoftheday for his birthday. What a happy accident that it actually happens to be a great song as well. Taken fro their 2014 self titled album i’d be amazed if they didn’t release it as a single it’s such a strong song, fingers crossed for some more exposure in the UK.

7. Jason Downs – White Boy With A Feather

‘Who’s the White boy over there with a feather in his hair and no underwear?’ Come on, is that not a great lyric? This was released in the UK in 2001 and reached number 19 in the charts. It probably entered my consciousness because it was a time in my life where I worked in a pub and night and subsequently spent my days watching The Box while everyone else was at work. I seem to remember the video was on high rotation back then. I always love song that’s not always the same old drivel about love and heartbreak and Jason’s Cherokee roots mixed with rapper Milk’s urban style makes for a great quirky pop song!

8. Childish Gambino – Fire Fly

Although I consider Childish Gambino’s 2011 album Camp to be very much ‘all killer, no filler’ this is probably one of my favourite tracks from it.  It’s one of the lesser aggressive ones on the album and reminds me old old school hip hop groups like De La Soul and Tribe Called Quest. It’s probably the poppiest thing he’s done if it’s not too sacrilege to say. His raps are witty and melodic about his rise to fame and the hook is infectious, another one for the summer bbq playlist.  His second album, while still good is a lot more experimental than Camp and this song is a great introduction to this guy’s brilliance!

9. Backstreet Boys – Feels Like Home

I couldn’t have a top ten without my fave boys now could I?! Taken from their 2013 In A World Like This album, which I’ve always said has been a grower on me this if by far the stand out track. In my humble opinion the boys have a long history of picking the wrong songs to release as singles leaving some uncovered gems as overlooked album tracks. It’s a decent thanks to their fans without being total fromage like ‘The Perfect Fan’ from Millennium, nice to hear Kevin and Howie taking more leads on vocals and it just puts a smile on my blonde freckled face.

10. Sinead O’Connor – Jealous

Remember that Dawson’s Creek theory I mentioned above? That’show i discovered this song! Sinead’s a funny one because she’s mega famous but only had one real massive hit. This song is from her 2000 album Faith and Courage (and Dawson’;s Creek season 3 episode 22) and is a beautiful ballad co-written with Dave Stewart.  It’s about a failed relationship and one half being jealous that the other had moved on. The melody is simple and understated and the vocals are haunting, she’s clearly a woman with a gift for expressing pain through her voice. She looks freakin stunning in the video as well!