Friday, December 31, 2004

Whatever's Left - Best Albums of 2004

Snow Patrol - Final Straw
According to some people, it's not strictly 2004, but the re-release special edition with extra tracks makes it worth it, and a candidate for a place in my favourite albums of the year. The whole thing blends together almost seamlessly, which is sometimes an annoyance, but it works. As singles, the songs aren't outstanding, but as part of an album, they fit together, completing some sort of musical jigsaw puzzle. There's nothing instantly dislikable, and while 'Run' was the indie breakthrough of the year, it is another song that will remain at the forefront of our minds - 'Whatever's Left'. 9/10

Dogs Die In Hot Cars - Please Describe Yourself
After hearing 'Lounger', I couldn't not buy 'Please Describe Yourself'. It had all the fun of a very poppy pop song, and you know how I like those. I probably haven't given this album the attention it deserves because of the recent explosion of good pop albums following something of a pop drought, but what I did hear impressed me a lot. I hope we'll see a lot more of Dogs Die in... hm, they should work on that name... 7.5/10 from Leo

I bought 'Please Describe Yourself' after seeing DDIHC on Gonzo. Yes, I bought something recommended by Zane Lowe (oh the shame!) but it was worth it. This album is pop music, the way it SHOULD be done. It's got an incredible singalong factor (once you've deciphered the crazy lyrics) and is one of those records that just makes you happy. 'Lounger' is genius, 'Godhopping' is amazing quirky and 'I Love You Cause I Have To' is ska-infused brilliance. 8.5/10 from Hannah

Keane - Hopes and Fears
I teased Hannah quite a bit about this album, and how I couldn't bring myself to listen to it, etc etc. With great reluctance, I finally gave it a proper listen. And, though I didn't like to admit it, it was pretty good. The lead singer (sorry, don't know names) has a fantastic voice, and the songs are alright - quite good - good - really really good. There, I said it. 8/10 from Leo

Hopes and Fears is a debut people either seem to love or hate. I can understand perfectly why people can love it, although it's impossible to explain - it's just everything about the record and the band - it's almost magical. Hypnotic, even. That could explain why Leo has fallen for it as well. And there's a surprise in store - the singles aren't the best things on the record! 9/10 from Hannah

Kasabian - Kasabian
With Kasabian I insisted I didn't play up to the hype. They were the first 'Leicestershire band' to hit it big in a LONG time, and the paper was making a huge fuss. I fell in love with them upon seeing the video for L.S.F. Indie-rock at it's finest, with an album scattered with killer tunes. Shame about the numerous fillers... To anybody who hasn't bought it, but has liked the singles, I highly recommend it. 7/10 from Hannah

Scissor Sisters - Scissor Sisters
The Scissor Sisters are one of the year's biggest success stories. It would be easy to dismiss them as another pop band, but instead they've gained critical acclaim from everybody, right across the board. They've released an excellent set of singles, and even more great tracks are present on the album. It's a good buy, even if you're not usually a hardcore 'pop fan', like Jamie and I, and we both LOVED it. 8/10

Girls Aloud - What Will the Neighbours Say?
I loved Girls Aloud's first album probably more than is healthy. So the excitement with which I awaited 'What Will the Neighbours Say' was not unlikethat of a rabid dog. And I wasn't disappointed. Girls Aloud/Xenomania lyrics like 'Put your tongue in my ear, it's queer but kinda fun' = Leo in a pop-induced frenzy. God knows what Girls Aloud were thinking releasing'Love Machine' and 'Stand by You' though, when they've got 'Wake Me Up' hiding on this disc. Pop fans, buy this album. Girls Aloud have shown once again that they are the ultimate girl band. 9.1/10 from Leo

Courtney Love - America's Sweetheart
I love this album. In fact, I think I'll add 'Pretending to be Courtney Love and singing along to America's Sweetheart' to my Interests list on Livejournal. I can't believe nobody bought this. It has some of the best lyrics ever ('You would never sell out, just like I did to Playboy - that was art, it didn't count!', plus the better ones I can't post here because they're too filthy) and Courtney co-wrote all the songs, making her... well, at least as credible as Britney Spears. 8.5/10 from Leo

The Delays - Faded Seaside Glamour
Children of the world - pay attention to your english teachers. However eccentric they may be, they may just recommend one of the most amazing records of the year to you. Well, that's what happened to me. I finally received my own copy of Faded Seaside Glamour for Christmas, and it's been difficult to resist playing it again, again and again. The Delays create perfect dream-pop with Greg Gilbert's almost feminine, swirling vocals, along with drifting melodies and imaginative guitars and keyboards. This album rises above all the rest, with some amazing singles and only one song that annoys me in any way at all. Long Time Coming is easily my favourite, but with an edgier sound on the way (Lost in a Melody) the future for the Delays is looking as bright as this incredible record. 9.5/10

McFly - Room on the Third Floor
Earlier this year, I published the McFly Aceness Chart. A lot's happened since then though, and some alterations have had to be made. And so, ladies and gentlemen, I give you the Revised McFly Aceness Chart.

Anyway, back to the album. Well, let's just say it would score highly on the Albums of 2004 Aceness Chart. 8/10 from Leo

Though what exactly makes them 'ace' I still haven't figured out. Better than Busted, mind you. - H x

Gwen Stefani - Love Angel Music Baby
When you're expecting something to be the BEST ALBUM EVER, it's very easy to be disappointed. And I was, a bit. But now I've got over that, I can appreciate this for the great pop album that it is! 8/10 from Leo

I've heard highlights here and there, and can vouch for it being pretty damn good. Jessica over at Dirrrty Pop has done a track-by-track review, if anybody's interested... - H x

Darren Hayes - The Tension and the Spark
I should really listen to these albums again, to refresh my memory so I can give a fairer comment on them all. But I'm not that efficient, so here are my vague memories of 'The Tension and the Spark': it was very good and there was a nice song called, um... erm.... 'Love and Attraction', I think it was. Oh dear, these reviews aren't supposed to be comprehensive are they? I hope my conclusion will do: Darren + electropop + gayness-implying lyrics = good album. 8/10 from Leo

More musical appreciation goes to:
Franz Ferdinand - 'Franz Ferdinand' 8.5/10, Ash - 'Meltdown' 8/10, The Charlatans - 'Up At The Lake' 7/10, The Zutons - 'Who Killed The Zutons' 6.5/10 and Razorlight - 'Up All Night' 6/10

Thursday, December 30, 2004

Whatever's Left - Best Singles 2004

Kasabian - 'L.S.F.'
'L.S.F' was something of a turning point for me. I was sick of the hype surrounding Kasabian. 'Club Foot' didn't really get my attention, and meanwhile I was having to endure Kasabian being mentioned in practically every issue of the Leicester Mercury. Then I saw the video for 'L.S.F.' They made a good video. They made a clever video. And the song was undeniably catchy. Sorted. 4.1/5 from Hannah

Keane - 'Somewhere Only We Know'
It's very rare that you encounter a song you fall in love with upon first listen, still love at the end of the year, when in that time you have managed to sing it accompanied by one of the most stunning indie bands on the planet and a couple of thousand fans just as enthusiastic as you are. Oh, and be inspired to learn the entire thing on the piano. Tom's soaring vocals, along with the simplicity of this little number has made it the song that will always remind me of 2004. 4.8/5 from Hannah

I won't say too much, because Hannah's said it all really, but a few months after the rest of the country, I fell in love with this too. Hannah, send me the sheet music! 4.8/5 from Leo

Dogs Die In Hot Cars - 'Lounger'
I was drawn to DDIHC by Zane Lowe (oh the shame!) on mtv2's Gonzo. I saw the videos for 'Godhopping' and 'I Love You Cause I Have To' and despite not being instantly convinced, I was getting a spark from this band, so I took a chance and I managed to get my hands on the album. 'Lounger' is definitely my favourite song on the entire thing, with mad lyrics, great music and a variety and electricity that separates them from everyone else out there. The video was bizarre, with some terrible acting that could only be there to make you smile. It's what the song does, folks. 4.9/5 from Hannah

I was drawn to DDIHC by Hannah (oh the shame!) who kept going on about them. Then I discovered the wonderful channel that is The Amp where 'Lounger' was played every ten minutes. And then I bought the album, and Hannah patted me on the head and said I was a good boy. It' s a good album too, but that's another story/post. 4.82/5 from Leo

Mousse T ft. Emma Lanford - 'Is It Coz I'm Cool'
The surprise of the year came in the form of my first ever SOTW, which was this track. It wasn't eurocheese, but instead, a weird indie-dance-pop hybrid complete with bass guitar and strings that developed, musically, throughout, accompanied by 3 minutes 45 seconds of catchy melodies and vocal harmonies. Pop perfection. Shame they couldn't keep it up! 4.9/5 from Hannah

Green Day - 'American Idiot'
I just heard this on WL Launchcast, and it still hasn't lost it's magic. The video is an epic, the song is a perfect capture of 'that attitude' to the USA and it has undoubtedly dragged Green Day into the mainstream. The video was a masterpiece, and the song was a download chart success. Who said politics wasn't good for you? 4.7/5 from Hannah

Razorlight - Golden Touch
'Razor-who?' they heard me say. Not for much longer. 'Golden Touch' is one of those songs with a real sense of development. There's so many different things going on, musically, that it's hard to get bored. Beginning at a much more simplified stage, it blossoms into something almost as all-over-the-place as The Libertines. Oh, and it's bloody catchy, too. 4.5/5 from Hannah

Ash - Orpheus
I first discovered this song when it was used to advertise the breakfast show on Virgin Radio. Admittedly, I had no idea who it was, and the only thing I'd previously known of Ash was that they had a video with cheerleaders in. This, however, was something different, a great rock song, that's even better live. The album's not half bad, either, but this is definitely a highlight. 4.4/5 from Hannah

Franz Ferdinand - 'Michael'
I loved Take Me Out, don't get me wrong, but since every writer on the planet appears to have concocted their own little appreciative writeup to this masterpiece (and deservedly so) I've picked something slightly different. Michael wasn't a storming chart success, but it deserved to be. It has THE coolest guitar riff and chord progression of 2004. 4.7/5 from Hannah

Jet - 'Look What You've Done'
Yes, I can be won over by a piano. It's a recognised fact. Aside from the popular 'Are You Gonna Be My Girl?' Jet showed their softer side at the beginning of the year with this little number. It was sensitive, and moving, and so dissimilar from what had gone before, leaving me wanting the sheet music to play it for myself. It's a shame the majority of the album was so poor. 4.7/5 from Hannah

Girls Aloud - The Show
Doo doo, do-do-do-do-do-do, d-d-d-doo... hm, the opening bars of The Show, though brilliant, are not easily transposed into text form, as you can see. But you get the idea. As I remember, 'The Show' was tragically robbed of its rightful place at number one by some crap. Possibly Usher-type crap. And to further demonstrate the Public's dodgy taste, 'The Show' was then virtually forgotten while the good but inferior 'Love Machine' was much hyped. Oh well, 'The Show' - I loved you. 4.8/5 from Leo

Gwen Stefani - What You Waiting For
Another single that was robbed of a higher chart position. There go Gwen's chances of a UK number one - the album's good but none of the other tracks are up to WYWF standard. It was a close run between this and 'Toxic' for my Single of the Year (see below). 'What You Waiting For' was either one of the best pop songs of recent years, or I was just hypnotised by the Alice in Wonderland video. I'm not altogether sure, but it gets 4.98/5 from Leo

The Killers - Somebody Told Me
As recommended by Jamie, I've included this. It is the only Killers track that I've been remotely interested in and my friend obviously rates it highly, for when asked for his singles of the year, came out with this and said anything else required thought. So, we're thinking it's pretty damn good. It's being re-released in 2005 too - bonza! 4/5

Singles of the Year:
Aside from the above shortlist, each of the WL staff was permitted to pick one single to rule them all...and produce a splurge of random singles they really enjoyed.

Leo chose:
Britney Spears - 'Toxic'
This should probably be 'What You Waiting For - Gwen Stefani', but Britney needs my loyalty right now. Just ignore the rubbish cover on the right, the song itself was good. Britney may not be able to write songs, or sing them, and she may even look a bit of a mess these days, but she is very good at moving her mouth and dancing in an air hostess outfit, I'm sure you'll agree. Thank God Britney was sensible and listened to her fans when they told her she should release 'Toxic' - she was all ready to release some awful 'Dirrrty' soundalike, the silly cow. 5/5

Hannah chose:
Scissor Sisters - 'Laura'
I first heard this single in 2003, and was incredibly grateful for its re-release. Even making the finals of the ITV Popularity Contest Single of Year, it proved it had wide appeal, and instant cult status. The catchy piano bassline really did it for me, though the way the whole song was brought to a climax, before defying the 'rules' and adding the crazy bit on at the end with almost indecipherable backing vocals. Camp. Crazy. Filthy. Gorgeous. 5/5

Richard Parker chose:
Kylie Minogue - 'I Believe in You'

Phwroar. 5/5

The Splurge:
Love Machine, Take Me Out, Mary, Radio, In The Shadows, Free, Bedshaped, Freakin Out, Love of Richard Nixon, This Love, These Words, Spitting Games, Vertigo, Four To The Floor, Lost in a Melody, Starcrossed, Sing For Absolution, Gravity, Vice, Can't Stand Me Now, Are You Gonna Be My Girl, Try Again Today, Run, Don't Ever Think, Walk Idiot Walk, Whatever Happened to Corey Haim, Seaside, Godhopping, Obviously...

Happy 2005, folks!

With a little help from our friends...

Since we're nearing the end of the year, I thought I'd offer up a few thanks to various people who've been there for WL in the short time we've been around:

The LJ Crew:
We'd like to thank The Pop, Michael and Callum, Julia, Harriet, Emma, Bridgey, Adam, Mikey D and Phyl, amongst others, for visiting, loving our work, inspiring us, suggesting things and being some of the loveliest people on the planet. Oh, and the mysterious Travis-loving Jules, who linked us completely out of the blue! Crystal - The Love Pavilion was the first music blog I ever read, and inspired me no end. You have a unique style of blogging (and lizzing!) and whenever you do take a break my day is incomplete.

Blogging Buddies:
Steve - one of the most entertaining people on the planet - your writing, whether it is for lowculture, Panda Pops, your lj, or even TOTP, is a great read!
Jessica - for all your support and poptastic-ness!
Box Five - my favourite independent band and the root cause of this blog!
Popjustice - for being the most interesting, and honest, music website on the planet!
Edward O - for linking us and providing a great mp3 blog, we're sorry to see you go!
Jonny - sarcasm, music and amusing links galore - I love your site!
Ranting Human - one of our first real fans, we'll never forget that!
Backroads - for keeping the comments alive!
Simon and the gang at SVC - for directing the most visitors to our site aside from the bizarre searches on Google!
Alan S - for giving a wonderful analysis of UK singles each week, and prompting us to listen to things we wouldn't have listened to otherwise!

EVERYONE who has read, commented, returned, told their friends, linked us or provided valuable inspiration!

And to Jamie, Leo, Svetty and RP - it would be nowhere near as fun without you!

Whatever's Left - Musical Moments of the Year

The WL staff have picked out some (rather diverse) highlights of their musical year...
My musical moment of the year was easily singing 'Somewhere Only We Know' along with a crowd of a couple of thousand at the Cambridge Corn Exchange. Everybody was standing. Everybody was singing. The sound was great. The atmosphere was great. It made me really feel alive, and happy, for one of the first times in ages! And anyone who dares to slag off Keane, can't take that away from me, ever. The whole year's been impressive really, with a lot more new bands than old favourites - I've bought 10 albums from this year, and most are either debuts, or are from complete newcomers to my collection. Roll on 2005 - the year of bigtime comebacks!

Jamie isn't here, but he did mutter something about a certain carefully choreographed dance in his school study room. 'Blame it on the Boogie', apparently...

I don't think this year has been terribly good for music, really. This is hard. I don't know. Am I allowed 'Kate Bush announcing that her new album comes out next year'..?

Richard Parker:
Well, my own Violin Concerto in G went down rather well at the Royal Albert Hall, if I do say so myself...
Hannah and Leo's guide to 2004 is coming very soon...

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Hannah's Single of the Week (27/12/04)

Nobody in their right mind releases anything half-decent at this time of year, do they? Exactly. So, apparently there's something from Jet and Secret Machines, but to be honest, I'm not that interested, and they probably aren't, either. Roll on next week, where I'll be reviewing Manic Street Preachers (again!), Scissor Sisters, Kasabian and Blue ft Lil Kim.

Expect gushing praise and some severe slagging off. I mean, come on - I'll have been waiting 3 weeks!

UK Top 75 (26/12/04)

No, we really couldn't be bothered last week. Mince pies were present and the offer of a rest was too good to refuse. Anyway, does anybody care, really? Both of the records at the top of the chart have been raising heaps for Band Aid. I sincerely hope, and I MEAN sincerely, that some of that money goes to help the tsunami disaster. At the minute, that's where it's really needed most. In fact, go and donate. Now. Right here. As soon as I can get a parent up here, a sizeable sum from my own savings is going somewhere it's needed, and without the aid of a charity single.

Anyway, moving onto the charts. There's (predictably) not an awful lot of activity this week, despite the fact that there was nearly a whole week's worth of peak-time sales before Christmas. To be honest, there wasn't anything worth buying, let alone reviewing.

There's some re-entries towards the bottom of the chart including Mylo with 'Drop The Pressure' (winning the award for most unusual addition to the Xfm playlist) at 74. 'You Got The Love' by Source ft Candi Staton is at 71. Danzel is back in the chart at 70. Jay Z is also back with '99 Problems'/'Dirt off your Shoulder' at 69.

'Silence 2004' by Delerium ft Sarah McLachlan is at 64, while Stonebridge ft Therese and the song 'Put Em High' are still lingering at 63. Over a year after its release, the Christmas effort from The Darkness is back at 58. Still, outsold by Nadia, of course, but it's a brave (read: 'unwanted') return. House of Pain are at 49 with 'Jump Around'.

The first new entry in the top 40 (one of two) is at 11, and it comes from Lethal Bizzle with a song called 'Pow (Forward)'. And yes, with a name like that we haven't even given it a listen.

Anybody would think I had given up reality TV completely (sadly, no, Celebrity Big Brother starts soon, apparently, and I'm likely to give in...) when you hear I haven't actually heard Steve Brookstein, who is new at 2 this week. Though, going by the general view of the blogging public, I'm sure many would pat me on the back and say congratulations, and that my ears have truly been saved. Then again, hearing G4 destroy 'Bohemian Rhapsody' (thankfully, I avoided their rendition of 'Creep') was enough to make me ban ITV on Saturday nights. Thank heavens for Strictly Come Dancing.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Whatever's Left - Live Acts 2004

This year I managed to cover a fair bit of the rock/pop spectrum by seeing Pink and the Queens of Noize at the NEC, Keane and Brendan Benson at the Cambridge Corn Exchange and Do Me Bad Things, Ash and The Darkness at the NIC. My favourite? It was easily Keane, because of the quality of the venue, but Ash and Pink were also extremely good. It made me realise how much fun it is to see a band at a more intimate venue. Brendan Benson was easily the most impressive support act, Do Me Bad Things were the most bizarre, Pink gave the most outrageous, homoerotic stage show, and the Queens of Noize were the most terrible excuse for a support act I had ever seen. And they're even worse television presenters...

Um. I've only seen one live act this year. Cough, Britney, cough. And before anyone makes a comment about Britney and live, she certainly didn't mime at the show I went to, even if Heat magazine does like to tell you she mimed her way round Europe... The support act, JC Chasez, danced nicely and may have taken off his shirt. So that was bearable. 4.68/5

Richard Parker:
Well obviously I toured with the Darkness, solidified in white paint (it's a wonder that they didn't call in animal rights!) for their big stage show. Quite obviously, I am bursting with star quality...

Saturday, December 25, 2004

So this is Christmas...

Hello folks! This is Hannah wishing you a very happy Christmas on behalf of the WL team. We're enjoying ourselves, eating, drinking and listening to the heaps of CDs we got for Christmas. Well, I am anyway.

Jamie sends his best, although he regrets to inform you his computer has blown up. Yes, apparently there was a spark and a funny burning smell, so we don't think he's exaggerating. Anyway, he won't be around for a while. Feel free to rally messages of encouragement (if you're one of his 'adoring fans' through the WL email, because we're expecting it may be a little hard for him to get a new computer. Oh dear...

Leo is around, with heaps of dvds and books (no mention of a single CD!) and appears to be enjoying himself. Svetlana is away in Ghana, hopefully having a great time in a rather different climate. Richard Parker stole the turkey and has eaten the lot.

Nothing much changes, really.
We'll be back shortly before the New Year.

Lots of love,
Hannah xx

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Just to remind you...

We are still here. I have been working all week (child labour - it's an outrage!) and so I haven't had as much time to 'encourage' the boys to write as I might have done. Expect the following uberlists by the end of the year:

Best Singles 2004
Best Albums 2004
Live Performances 2004
Musical Moments of the Year 2004

Well, we can only hope. However, before we publish these lists we would like to say two things:

1) We've not charted them, like everyone else. Why? There's three of us, with the most diverse (not to mention constantly-changing) musical tastes, and it's just not fair. So, instead, various staff members have given micro-reviews for different records, to reflect our views in this point in time.

2) We will not be rewording the views of Q Magazine*. We are not indie-puppets. I like to think that we have our own views, and it's our honesty that has brought people to WL. So what if we DO like Keane? Hmm?

Somebody far geekier than I has actually bothered to complete the Christmas Quiz, and in very stylish fashion. Congratulations, Michael! He has forbidden me to buy him a prize, although he will probably regret this and come grovelling at the next available opportunity. Oh well - a girl can hope! :P

* or Smash Hits, if your name is Leo

Monday, December 20, 2004

Quiz Time!

Hello and welcome, one and all, to the WL Christmas Quiz. Okay, we could cross out the 'Christmas', since it isn't particularly festive, but did Xfm care? Not really. So, onto our quiz. The challenge? Match up these sets of first and last lines from 10 albums from my own, personal collection. Oh, and name the album, if you can. We're not counting random 'oohs' or any/hidden bonus tracks - best of luck! Oh, and we've left out a lyric/track. Can you name it? :P

1) Are you such a dreamer to put the world to rights?
2) Even if you had to run...
3) Let's pretend, happy end...
4) It's the same, the same, the same...
5) Bones sinking like stones, all that we fall for...

6) 20ft high on Blackpool promenade...
7) Everything's not lost...
8) I'll never see them again if I squeal to the cops...
9) Eighteen times a week, love - hahaha!
10) Every day I wake up and it's Sunday...

11) Street's like a jungle, so call the police...
12) I'll tell you something - I am a wolf but I like to wear sheep's clothing...
13) Please don't go crazy if I tell you the truth...
14) We're living it, living so bad...
15) I have found so many people like to smile a lot...

16) Come waste your millions here...
18) Maybe at the time it felt like dreaming...
19) I hope it's not the last time...
20) Oh, I'm getting stronger in every way...

Please post your answers in the comments, or email them in - whichever you prefer!
Oh, and bonus points if they're in chronological order!

The prize? We're still deciding...but it'll probably be one of our forthcoming 'WL Albums of 2004'.

Hannah's Single of the Week (20/12/04)

How boring can you get? Nobody is really bothered this week, are they? Well, they never are...

What is basically on offer this week:
The X-Factor single (which I'm not going to bother reviewing)
Some hip-hop rubbish
More download exclusives
and...oh, something decent, that happens to be a download-exclusive.

Hmm, dilemma here, folks. Alan S over at UKSOTW is going to be a bit stuck!

Single Download-Exclusive of the Week
The Charlatans - 'Loving You Is Easy'

'Up At The Lake', the album from which this download is taken, has been placed on my Christmas list for no apparent reason, other than I liked one of the other singles - 'Try Again Today'. 'Loving You Is Easy' is something different from the aforementioned single, with a piano intro, and seems to share part of its melody with both 'Fields of Gold' and something by The Corrs, along with something from 'The Scientist' going on. Hold on a moment - it's a game of Guess The Tune! Okay, this IS a bit disturbing, but the song does work, even if it isn't particularly original or imaginative and doesn't stand out from most of the music on offer at the minute. However, it seriously is the only thing I like this week. Katie Melua? Westlife? Steve? I didn't have much choice. 3/5

Saturday, December 18, 2004

A year (well, less than half, really) of WL...

Want to re-live the highlights of this year of WL? We've compiled a quick post featuring our favourite moments...

Whatever's Left started Pablo Honey-like with an incredibly rubbish first post, but soon kicked into action, with some rather random praising of Alex Parks, Mousse T, and forgotten Robbie Williams number one hits. Yes, seriously.

WL soon began to take shape with the arrival of Leo, who began his legacy of...well, being there in 'spirit' with this message:

'I appear to have joined Hannah the team over at Whatever's Left. It really is very good - you should check it out. Well, obviously it's not that good yet because my invitation hasn't arrived from Blogger and I haven't posted anything. But I see potential. ;)'

Pay careful attention to the 'haven't posted anything' part, folks!

After some bizarre fake-music video awards, courtesy of the enigma otherwise known as Richard Parker, I began my weekly UK Top 75 coverage. This proved handy, as we must be one of the only sites on the web who (normally!) give credit to those artists who lie outside of the top 40!

Moving into September, we began an obsession with the download chart, and managed to talk about Robbie Williams so much it was sickening. We also mused over retro kids' gameshows and plugged some more obscure acts, like Box Five and Reindeer Section. I decided to be a little more creative and review the Scissor Sisters, while Jamie Scott joined the team.

Jamie began various writing work, including album and single reviews, before aiding me in my week-long pisstake of Jessica Simpson. Soon we reached over 1000 hits, and nominated ourself in the DMAs, which was hardly an amazing idea, but it made us giggle at the time.

October was a month of llamas, Supergrass, Robbie (again!) and Dogs Die in Hot Cars. It was also the time of Jamie starting his new trend, and putting his negativity to good use, forming Jamie's non-single of the week, and managing to ridicule both Rachel Stevens and Daniel Bedingfield in under 28 days. There's also a variety of single reviews on the October Archive, so get your backside over there!

Also in October, Leo returned with his amazing 'half-term of pop' post, and, not content with just bullying Jessica, we moved onto her little sister. And if anybody cares, we came 485th in the DMAs, similar to what would happen if any of us tried a cross-country run.

Into November, and I was onto films, reviewing Shark Tale. There was a brief hallucination as I found myself liking McFly and hating Chris Martin. Nooo! Peace and harmony was restored, however, when I had the time of my life seeing Keane in Cambridge. Leo reviewed Gwen Stefani and Jamie ridiculed Blue. Meanwhile, I found myself preferring the Darkness' support band.

In December, we welcomed Svetlana, insulted the Cheeky Girls (again!), felt a bit sorry for Nadia and still carried on the tradition of single of the weekin the meantime. Well, ONE person did. No prizes for guessing who. Check out the December Archive.

So, where is WL heading? Well, we're rounding off this year with a series of lists rounding up what's been great about the 2004 music scene, thank yous to our blogging friends and the usual crud that oozes from my fingers. Next year? Who knows? We have a one-week MP3 feature in the pipeline, along with more of what we've done this year.

Thank you for visiting - without you, WL would probably not have lasted this long!

Friday, December 17, 2004

An open letter to the music magazines...

(As our dear friend Svetlana is off to Ghana (no, the cheesy rhyme was NOT intended) here is her contribution to WL this week:)

Dear Editors:

Now I like learning about new music as much as the next person, but one thing which I simply cannot abide are the Weekly/Monthly magazines which any pseudo-tortured-antiskid grabs on the day of publishing with their spindly indie fingers, flicking to the News section to see which art-thrash-electro-garage wankers are NME's 'Band du Jour'.
So they go out and profess to all their friends with their TIGI haircuts that "the electrokillerstrokes" are the new black, because NME said so... Then they trot off to sip their skinny Mochas while they muse over whether or not they should buy the NME annual for the interview with Pete Libershambles' rehab nurse.

Now don't forget NME readers, that Heroin addiction is cool. Now, go on, shoot up.

Don't get me started on Q. Or Oasis magazine as I like to call it. Tell me, can they go one issue where their noses remain firmly on their faces, rather than up Liam and Noel's arses? Should you be reading this, Mr. Q Editor, I will give you all of my worldly possessions if you can go one issue without the mention of the Neanderthal brothers. £3.30 on old news, adverts and the occasional free CD.

Kerrang. Had I the choice twixt a nettle leaf and a page of Kerrang, I'd choose the former. Safe to say, that I wouldn't line the cat litter tray with that garbage.

Now there used to be a day, when I enjoyed reading music magazines. The journos had things to say, they loved what they were doing and their passion for music could almost be tasted in the way they wrote. Now? Free posters with every issue! More gossip! Readers' letters!

If I wanted posters, I'd read Smash Hits.

Good music journalism died with Peel. (With the exception of Mojo and the Guardian's Friday Review).

Lovingly yours,

ADDENDUM: I have a good lawyer, so anyone wanting to sue, BRING IT ON.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Hannah's Single of the Week (13/12/04)

The last half-hearted attempts for Christmas number one are here. And I'm ready to review them. Aside from the old crooners (aka Cliff Richard and Donny Osmond) and the slightly-younger-crooners-with-a-similar age-fan-club (aka Ronan Keating) here are this week's releases:

Special Mentions:
I have to admit, it's the happy, bouncy Zutons numbers that I like best, but 'Confusion' isn't bad. It's just a little dull in comparison to 'You Will You Won't' and 'Don't Ever Think', although this doesn't make it a bad song. It sways along gently in all its semi-acoustic glory. If you haven't bought the album, then do so. It's excellent value, and you'll be getting every single, rather than just the one. 3.7/5

Oh dear. Comedy alert. After 'Danger! High Voltage!' and 'Gay Bar' I had little appreciation for Electric Six and their public image. They were a joke band, producing average songs that you could soon get sick of. The thing is...this cover isn't actually that bad, however cringeworthingly cheesy the video is. Not a patch on Freddie Mercury though. No way. 3.4/5

And onto another 'joke' band. While we've had enough of guns and 'wappers' and well-endowed mothers, this is something altogether. It made me giggle, it made my parents chuckle and gives one of my best friends more amusement than every sitcom put together. What is there not to love about chavs that take the piss out of themselves, with lines about McDonalds and the Mecca Bingo. Not real music, but it wouldn't be out of place on a decent sketch show. 3.3/5

Single of the Week:
It would have been this, except some idiot changed the release schedules. We impatiently wait for this single's release...

Avoid at ALL costs:
Somebody told me about this. I thought they were kidding. Then I saw the video. The only word in my mind, quite frankly, is 'why?'. 0/5

There are two good things to come out of this single. Firstly, it prompted the first ever interview with Leigh Francis out of character. Oddly enough, it was more surreal than if Avid Merrion had been there on Frank Skinner's show. Secondly, it's another charity effort. However, this doesn't excuse it from being a frankly terrible comedy effort. Yes, worse than last year's. 1.5/5

Monday, December 13, 2004

UK Top 75 (12/12/04)

As 2004 draws to a close, and singles sales pick up with the race for Christmas number one, we have this week's UK Top 75.

Seamus Haji and Ludes bring up the rear of the chart at 69 and 68, respectively. Talib Kweli ft Mary J Blige are new at 59 with 'I Try'. The Cheeky Girls have proved their pointlessness and dwindling popularity, only charting at 50 this week. Art Brut are also new at 49 with 'Modern Art'/'My Little Brother' - the former being fabulously quirky. The Beautiful South have another new entry (surely it wasn't that long since their last?) with 'This Old Skin' at 43.

First into the top 40 are the Beastie Boys at 38 with 'Open Letter to NYC', who will probably be a bit miffed that Paul Holt's novelty (hopefully not at all serious) effort - 'Fifty Grand For Christmas' is new at 35. My single of the week, 'Renegade Cavalcade' by Ash enters the chart at 33. The Corrs narrowly miss out on the top 30 with 'Long Night' at 31.

Brian Wilson with 'Good Vibrations' is new at 30, closely followed by Mousse T at 28, and Maroon 5 with 'Sunday Morning' at 27.

There's a rather large gap between Maroon 5 and the next chart entry. 3rd Wish are new at 15 with 'Obsesion (Si Es Amor)'. Hmm. I don't think I want to hear this, do I?

Robbie Williams enters the chart in the top 10, at 8, in fact, which is a surprise, because 'Misunderstood' is one of his worst singles ever. And that's coming from a fan. Kylie Minogue just misses out on the top spot, hitting number 2 with her latest tune, 'I Believe in You'.

The collective known as Band Aid 20 are still number one. It's officially the biggest selling single of the year. Hopefully the money will make a difference.

Saturday, December 11, 2004

The Cheeky Girls. Why? - A Non-Single of the Week from Jamie

In my personal opinion, talent is, or at least should be a very important part of whether or not you release/continue to release singles.

Nobody told this to Monica and Gabriela, did they?

The Cheeky Girls - Girls and Boys The Cheeky Girls

This song could, of course, equally have been called 'The Cheeky Song - Mark 15', because it is essentially the same song. Yet again. That's right, our favourite pair of Transilvanian twins are back, and are just as dire as ever.

I suppose it isn't necessarily their fault. Again, novelty singles are great, as long as the people micky-ing themselves are aware of it (See last week's NSOTW). The thickly accented voices don't really lend themselves to singing, and as their equally-Transilvanian mother is the chosen lyricist of the pair, there's hilarity for all who actually bother to listen to the lyrics. Need I remind you of the bridge from 'The Cheeky Song'?

'Come and smile,
Don't be shy,
Touch my bum,
This is life!


'And take your shoe-sies off! Wooh!'The girl's fashion sense is somwhat questionable. Their penchant for gold lamé hotpants is somewhat unnerving, as is the fact that they dressed up as fairies for their 21st birthday. Then there was the cheerleader get-up for the fantastic 'Take Your Shoes Off', as well as various red-carpet disasters.

All in all, I feel it would be kinder to let the girls go. Like putting an ill dog down, there's no point letting them make quite so much of a fool of themselves for years to come.

Friday, December 10, 2004

In the name of Love?

So Jamie begged, pleaded and bribed to within an inch of his life for me to bring my writing talents to WL. (Well, that's a lie, he offered me 20p and a Freddo.)

So Damen und Herren, I give you Band Aid 20: An Analysis.

"At Christmas time, we let in light and we banish shade"

Tesco support this by selling their Value Fairy lights for £2.49 per box. Come in a variety of colours.

Well tonight thank God it's them instead of you

Because, dear Mr. Bono, you can empathise with the pain and suffering of those poor African children from your time spent in Ghana.

Flight to Ghana (business class) £1400 (one way)
Nights in Golden Tulip Hotel, Accra (x 4 nights) = 409,62 EUR.
Don't forget though, his cronies who followed him round, also had to have a room there/flight out.

Average daily wage of a Ghanaian 1,40€.

Now Bono, doesn't pay tax to either the English or Irish government. He has a condo somewhere in America, probably quite a few houses. Granted U2 donate money to charity and stuff, but when you're earning as much as he does, would it hurt to buy the Africans some cows/build several water pumps/provide supplies for hospitals etc.

Working for Oxfam, I know that not all money raised goes to the charity. 20% goes on overheads. Which is an awful lot.

"And there won't be snow in Africa this Christmas"
Of course there won't be. Just in case you're a bit thick you'll all know that the equator runs right through Africa, making snow pretty much impossible (save for the tops of mountains usw.)

"Where nothing ever grows
No rain nor rivers flow "

Ghana is home to one of the largest lakes in Africa. How about the River Nile? In terms of natural resources Africa pretty much has it all. Cocoa, Diamonds, Gold, Coffee etc. It's the companies here which exploit them and the corruption of local Governments/ the massive debt which prevent them being used to their full potential and hence, Africa remains poor.

I bet Bono enjoys a nice cup of Nescafé with his breakfast, while his kids all open their advent calendars and eat Nestlé chocolates.

"Do they know it's Christmas time at all?"
Surprisingly, most of them do. Africa was colonised when Christianity was the religion to have. It's just that in Africa, it's held as the religious festival it should be. Not the money grabbing present rally that Toys R Us make it. Those who don't know it's Christmas, are no doubt Muslims.

"If the table was turned would you survive"
No doubt if the table was turned Mr. Rascal, you'd be on the phone to your lawyer suing the arse of the person who's taken your bling away from you/go on 'I'm a Celebrity' to boost your career.

Well, people of Band Aid, enjoy your career boosts from this. I look forward to buying your new albums in the new year.

The only respect I have is for Chris Martin (pretentious twat as he is), the bloke from Travis, the members of Radiohead and of course Sir Bob Gandalf. They've actually stepped out of their Porsches and physically done something about it. Not just jumped on the bandwagon, knowing nothing about stuff à la Joss "40-an-hour" Stone. (anyone who saw the documentary that Auntie had on Monday will know what I mean.)

Saturday, December 04, 2004

Hannah's Single of the Week (06/12/04)

Tonight, something's coming. Something good. I DO know what it is, and it IS gonna be great. But anyway:

I will be back next week, on full form, if I can actually find the energy to wake up. I will leave you in the capable hands of two boys and an extremely lazy tiger. Rock on. Here is a quick sum up of this week's new releases - remember, this is the penultimate release week for those hoping for Christmas number one!:

The Good:
Kylie Minogue - 'I Believe In You'
It took a while to capture my imagination, but this Scissor Sisters collaboration is slickly produced and is clearly influenced by Babydaddy. The chorus is catchy, and I'm ashamed to say I like it quite a bit. 3.6/5

Ash - 'Renegade Cavalcade'
It isn't amazing, pounding, summery rock like 'Orpheus' nor is it as tender as 'Starcrossed' but 'Renegade Cavalcade' has been worth the wait. After withdrawing their original elephant man-style video, which was produced in their absence, Ash have finally got round to releasing this single. It's not bad, but we recommend buying the album instead. 3.7/5

The Not-so-good:
Robbie Williams - 'Misunderstood'
Robbie can do good ballads, like 'Eternity' and 'She's The One'. He can do timeless pop classics, like 'Angels'. However, this isn't Robbie at his best. It's weak, the video looks cheap, and much as I love Robbie's work, it's not convinced me to buy his Greatest Hits. 2.5/5

Mousse T ft. Emma Langford - 'Right About Now'
So, the artists with the honour of being our first ever SOTW return, with something remarkably similar, but nowhere near as good. In comparison to 'Is It Cos I'm Cool' this new release is a little flat, with nothing new or interesting to offer. Avoid. 2/5

The Bad:
The Beastie Boys - 'Open Letter to NYC'
They have their fans. Unfortunately I am not one of them. I'm sure their music is perfectly good, but everything they've released this year feels like a drill in my eardrum. 1/5

The Cheeky Girls - 'Boys and Girls'
Why they are still going, nobody really knows. Who is even buying their records? This time they've enlisted Hollyoaks star Andy Newton-Lee to guest star. He's going to regret this soon, if he doesn't already, and believe me, this lot make Nadia look good! 0.5/5

Friday, December 03, 2004

Why the cynicism of record companies manages to upset even me - A Semi-Non-Single-Of-The-Week from Jamie

First things first. I love Big Brother. I love it with a passion, and it pretty much takes over my existance for those ten short weeks when a handfull of (un?)suspecting people are thrust into the public eye.

This year, anyone who happened to read my LiveJournal (qu'on peut trouver ici) would have noticed my Nadia Almadaadoration for the divine being known as Nadia Almada. The Portuguese diva entertained us all with her nicotine addiction, fiery latin temper, and that laugh. She also did, in ten weeks, more for the transsexual community than could have possibly been hoped by winning the prize.

However, all this aside, one thing that wasn't all that impressive about our Nads was her singing voice. The word 'caterwaul' springs to mind, and it often provided a few more giggles to the viewing audience.
Nadia's crowning moment. But will we ever see it again?
It seems that somebody else noticed this too. Somebody, somewhere decided to release 'A Little Bit of Action', Nadia's debut single, upon us. The song itself, a remarkably Cheeky Girls-esque affair, was written especially for Nadia, although obviously somebody forgot to check the key. Nadia's somewhat deep voice doesn't quite hit all the notes - but it doesn't matter, because her backing singers sing it along with her, like an impatient mother teaching her child to read.

'A Little Bit of Action' isn't the world's best musical foray ever, and it isn't meant to be. You see the idea of a Portuguese transsexual reality TV Star who can't sing apparently screams 'novelty record', and this is what I find disturbing. Hearing Nadia talking about her song, she sounds so enthusiastic about it. I only hope that she isn't too naïve to realise that they're leading her on. I hope her naïvité doesn't make her belive she can become a popstar. If the record doesn't sell, they'll drop her and crush her instantly.

However, Hannah reliably informs me that it's doing OK. I'm not sure whether this is better or not. What could build up someone's hopes more than a hit single, and as soon as single #2 crashes and burns, as it inevitably would do, Nadia'll be out on her ear again. It's not a particularly nice thing to do to someone, and they're just playing on the fact that she's a rarity, and, although the hoi polloi liked her in the summer, they won't necessarily go out and buy her song.

I really hope it doesn't all go wrong for her.

1/5 (and trust me, that '1' is just because it's her...)

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Hannah's Single of the Week (29/11/04)

To be honest, there could only be one single that stands out this week, no matter what I think of it. Meanwhile, there's been a few okay-ish releases from bands that have impressed me in the past, and the obligatory cheese you get in the run up to Christmas. Next week, the contenders for Christmas number one will be released, although according to the media, and the bookies, it's set in stone that Band Aid 20 will clench that coveted title, along with huge sales figures and, more importantly, lots of money going to charity. So, without further ado, here are this week's single highlights:

Special Mentions:
Green Day - 'Boulevard of Broken Dreams'
Now ridiculously overplayed by Radio 1, we've gone off this a little, but it's still a great song. Green Day are bringing their music to a whole new, increasingly mainstream audience. 4/5

Babyshambles - 'Killamangiro'
It's like the Libertines, just more of a shambles really. I've not made my mind up with this one yet...2.5/5

Fatboy Slim - 'Wonderful Night'
Norman, Norman, Norman - you have some wonderful ideas, but there's something missing from your songs. They've just not got that spark that keeps them new and fresh and exciting and not remotely repetitive. Interesting video, mind you. 2.5/5

Natasha Bedingfield - 'Unwritten'
The success story of the year (despite only one real dynamite single) is back once again. Again, this track's a grower, and no, I won't turn the radio off if I hear it, but I'm still not completely convinced by this latest frontrunner of pop...2.5/5

5 Good Reasons Why You Should Buy Band Aid 20:

1) The (albeit slightly muted) Radiohead guitar solo, courtesy of Jonny Greenwood. Oh, and Thom Yorke on piano is always a plus. In fact, the actual band isn't all that bad.
2) Watch the video carefully...are Busted singing? Nope, it's Tom from Keane! Now, whether you like Keane or not, the erasure of Busted's solo vocals can hardly be a bad thing. I just have to pray they don't re-edit the video...
3) Daniel Bedingfield putting his heart and soul into his performance. It's incredibly amusing. We were going to suggest that a certain Damon Albarn (observe his cheeky grin) spiked Daniel's tea, but we've been reliably informed that he really is a bit of lunatic.
4) The money goes to charity. And you can't say fairer than that. Seriously. Despite the fact that the song is fairly rubbish in places, it's all for a good cause.
5) If you don't like it you could always go here and join in the 'fun'.

While I'm at it, can I take a moment to mention Chris Martin's hair? What DOES he think he's doing? Chris, sweetie, when you shaved it off, that's when Coldplay had the major success. You no longer looked like a geek-from-hell and instead you were an intellectual who made the VH1 100 Sexiest list! Now you could easily scare off anyone that tunes in to watch the Band Aid video (for the fifteen millionth time...)

Then again, you could do worse:
Nadia - 'A Little Bit of Action'
We love Nadia. We loved her cigarette cravings, shouting, screaming and the way she always read out instructions despite the fact you could hardly understand a word she said. She made Big Brother exciting once again. So what if Brian Dowling forged a fairly successful career as a TV presenter? Nadia - being a popstar is not the way to go, much as the WL team love you. 1/5