I went to this One Direction press conference thing and here’s what I learned
May 16 2013, 16:20
Trailed by an incessant hashtagging campaign and an ominous countdown on their website, One Direction’s ‘big announcement’ wasn’t simply that Niall has had his braces removed, but that they are in fact going on a massive stadium world tour, starting next April in Latin America and then coming to the UK. Exciting times.
Rather than just send out an email with a nice picture and the dates, journalists were sent an invite last week asking them to traipse all the way to Wembley for a press conference.
Expecting something quite glamorous – I mean, look at that sparkly invite – involving a nice buffet, I agreed to go.
Anyway, here’s what I learned:
One Direction fans are quite dramatic
Having got a bit lost by walking the wrong way round the stadium, I eventually found the correct entrance and made my way towards the reception. Outside the big glass doors a glum-looking bloke was stood waiting for a group of girls – each with 1D scrawled on their faces – and their mum who had assembled menacingly around the check-in table bit. I couldn’t make out what was happening but as I got closer they were ‘asked to leave’ prompting one of the girls to yell: “you’re crushing our dreams! Stop crushing our dreams”. As we climbed the escalator I took this picture just before their mum told them off.
Press conferences aren’t that glamorous to be honest
I’ve never really been to a pop press conference before, so my expectations were quite high. Surely they’d hold it on the hallowed turf of Wembley I thought? A scene of so many amazing moments, chiefly Take That’s Progress tour. Surely I’d end up playing a game of football with Niall, and perhaps get the chance to discuss some lyric ideas for the new album with the band’s foremost pensmith? Being greeted by this fairly rudimental sign upon arrival dispelled any hopes I had of it being anything other than on a par with a NatWest conference I went to when I worked there after Uni. This was our journey to the conference room. Amazing.
Niall is clearly being positioned much more clearly as someone who does something in the band
After taking pictures of some members of the band looking at the Wembley pitch and enjoying some orange juice, we were lead down a slightly grimy corridor to the conference room. It was here that we saw the title of the tour, which sort of meant the whole ‘secret’ announcement thing was ‘out there’ before the ‘boys’ had even stepped out to start talking. When they finally did, the ‘compere’ immediately told us that it would be Niall – a man who had seemingly not been near a microphone on their first album – who would make the announcement. Which he did. So well in fact that Louis was prompted to ask him where he’d learned all these new words. He was also positioned at the centre of the group, which is sort of interesting. As you can see from the pic above, it went Liam, Zayn, Niall, Harry and Louis, meaning the triangle of interest in the centre is still in tact. Which brings us to…
Liam is definitely the new Gary Barlow
Whenever a question needed a mature (boring) response or something that towed a specific PR line, everyone looked at Liam (it was Liam who used the words “edgier” and “rockier” when the new album was mentioned). Every ‘joke’ he tried to make fell a bit flat and there was an amazing moment when he was asked about going to Argentina or somewhere amazing and he replied with a lot of guff and then, “I hope the weather’s warm” before unleashing an amusing Alan Partridge-esque laugh, which was followed by the mocking laughs of the rest of the band. Obviously having to answer boring questions with exciting answers can be difficult, but it was noticeable how being funny and just sort of relaxed in that environment was made to seem like quite a chore. Much like when Gary does that annoying arm thing when he’s trying to ‘rouse’ the X Factor crowd.
Zayn is basically mute
Zayn may sing like a lark and dance like a moody teenager, but he is seemingly mute. Not a single word passed his lips during the thirty or so minutes they were sat in front of us. Yes his hair looked beautiful and his coat was nice, but it would have been good to hear his views on what he wants to do when they’re in Brazil or what soap character they most feel an affinity to (thanks The Sun).
Can you believe it’s been a whole year? At 8pm on Saturday, viewers of The Voice will have to put their excitement on hold for a week as the BBC gets on with the far more important matter of flying the flag at the 58th annual Eurovision Song Contest in Malmö, Sweden.
Last year 78-year-old crooner Engelbert Humperdinck crashed and burned into second-last position with ‘Love Will Set You Free’. Fortunately the BBC has learned a valuable lesson from that disaster, and have drafted in dynamic young ingénue Bonnie Tyler with the power-ballad ‘Believe In Me’.
In fairness to The Artist Formerly Known As Gaynor Hopkins, it’s a much catchier song than The Hump’s rather dirgey effort, but it’s safe to say that the chances of her bringing it home are fairly slim.
Still, for every quarter-arsed British effort, there are always a fair few bona fide corkers on display – as proven by Sweden’s still staggeringly brilliant ‘Euphoria’ by Loreen, which of course won last year and went on to top the charts in 17 countries and hit the Top 3 in the UK despite no airplay whatsoever. Not to mention the inevitable acts of unmitigated lunacy that help make the contest such a uniquely brilliant experience.
Here are a few highlights to watch out for:
Denmark: Emmelie De Forest – ‘Only Teardrops’
According to the bookies, the contest is likely to stay in Scandinavia for a second year, which will doubtless cause a large number of stupid people to make angry noises about ‘political’ voting, handily ignoring that the contest has also been to such diverse locations as Germany, Russia and Azerbaijan in recent years. Denmark’s Emmelie De Forest (seriously, what a name!) sounds like Marina & The Diamonds cutting a record with The Corrs, but far more wonderful than that prospect probably sounds. One listen and the chorus will be stuck in your head for days.
Norway: Margaret Berger – ‘I Feed You My Love’
Connoisseurs of icy Scandinavian electro-pop may be familiar with Margaret Berger, whose 2006 album ‘Pretty Scary Silver Fairy’ is literally very good and spawned the amazing and cruelly overlooked singles ‘Samantha’ and ‘Will You Remember Me Tomorrow’. ‘I Feed You My Love’ comes on like Beth Ditto fronting Depeche Mode, and is exactly as amazing as that prospect probably sounds.
Germany: Cascada – ‘Glorious’
Subtlety being ever the watchword of Natalie and co from Cascada, ‘Glorious’ essentially takes Loreen’s ‘Euphoria’ and puts a massive donk on it. It won’t win any points for originality, but it’s still a mighty tune in any hands, and this year’s most danceable entry by some distance.
Belarus: Alyona Lanskaya – ‘Solayoh’
You can always tell whether it’s going to be a good Eurovision or not by the presence of the obligatory budget-J.Lo hip-wiggler. Thankfully, noted Latin hotspot Belarus has stepped up to the plate with this dated but hummable slice of complete nonsense.
Russia: Dina Garipova – ‘What If’
Drafting in a collective of warbling octogenarian baking enthusiasts failed to bring it home for Russia last year, so they’ve gone back to basics with this inspirational powerballad straight out of the X Factor Winners Single Songbook* (*before Simon Cowell started trolling indie favourites).
Netherlands: Anouk – ‘Birds’
Having failed to qualify for the finals eight years in a row, The Netherlands are even more rubbish at this Eurovision lark than we are. Enter Anouk – a big star at home and across the continent, and widely tipped to restore some national pride to the beleaguered Dutch. There are shades of Lana Del Rey to this moody torch song and it should be a welcome shot of understatement among the surrounding madness.
Ukraine: Zlata Ognnevich – ‘Gravity’
Another big favourite with the bookies, the Ukrainians can practically taste a second victory with this overblown Disney screamathon. Never a Eurovision nation renowned for their subtle approach to stage gimmicks, the smell of success has really tipped them over the edge this year. Zlata will be joined onstage by the world’s tallest man, who will play “a magical warrior whose job is to defend her on her journey through the magical forest”. Sure.
Azerbaijan: Farid Mammadov – ‘Hold Me’
Speaking of gimmicks, the Azerbaijani visual hook is equally impressive, if marginally less batshit. Farid will sing his song on top of a giant glass box in which an upside-down dancer will mirror his every move. Whether this stunt will sufficiently distract from the Des’ree-esque lyrics of the song (“Hold me/Just unfold me”) remains to be seen.
San Marino: Valentina Monetta – ‘Crisalide’
Bless little San Marino. The smallest nation in the contest with a population of around 32,000, all they want to do is get into the finals for the first time. They might well do it with ‘Crisalide’, which starts off as a dramatic Italian ballad before kicking into full-blown disco mode for the final chorus. Expect a wind machine and acres of chiffon.
Romania: Cezar – ‘It’s My Life’
Romania’s Cezar Ouatu looks like David Blaine, sings like Sarah Brightman, enjoys a sparkly suit and is no stranger to a bit of eyeliner. His song sounds like an unholy combination of disco, opera and Bon Jovi. This is Eurovision insanity in its purest, richest form and will doubtless be the ‘down a shot’ moment at viewing parties up and down the continent.
I am of course employing sarcasm for comic effect because obviously it’s all everyone’s bloody talking about. To fit with the album’s ‘blockbuster’ feel, no copies of the album were sent out to journalists, with early playbacks taking place in the duo’s studio in Paris.
The playback I was invited to did not happen in Paris. It happened in an extremely hot office in a record company building in west London on Thursday April 18 at a quite-early-when-you-have-to-travel-from-Stoke-Newington 10:30am. The reason for the delay in writing about it is because there was OF COURSE an embargo on the whole thing, which means you can enjoy a slew of track-by-track things as of today.
Anyway, here’s what happened.
9:08 – I leave my house and catch a bus to Liverpool Street station. The bus is a 149, Ruby Goe’s favourite.
9:37 – I board a Central line tube to Notting Hill Gate.
9:50 – I arrive at Notting Hill Gate station and decide to walk down to High Street Kensington, my final destination, as the weather is quite nice.
10:02 – I suddenly realise I’m early, which is rare.
10:13 – Thankfully there’s a Whole Foods near the office building so I have a wander about and laugh to myself about how expensive some of the things are. I check my emails.
10:17 – I realise I’d quite like a cookie so I buy a ridiculously large white chocolate one which I then put in my bag. I also get a large tea despite the fact that I know it will make me need a wee quite soon.
10:23 – I get lost trying to find the building because a lot of the roads look the same in that part of west London.
10:29 – I meet the PR in the reception of the label building. I sit down on a chair near another journalist who is also here to listen to the album.
10:34 – We’re taken into a boiling hot office that features two sofas, a big TV screen and a stereo. Someone from the label who’s joined us tells us that during one of the other playbacks of the album the speakers blew so they had to replace them. I don’t know if this is true. As you can see from the picture to your right, the bin in the office is red.
10:40 – Two other journalists arrive so now there are four of us, plus the PR and the lady from the label.
10:43 – The journalists are asked to sign a piece of paper saying that we won’t tweet or write about the album or even communicate to anyone that we’ve heard it.
10:44 – I have a slight panic as I mentioned on Twitter a few days earlier that I was coming to hear the album. I figure no one’s noticed so I should be fine.
10:51 – I take out my laptop to make notes as we listen and there’s some discussion about whether that’s okay because some people there only brought pen and paper. I can’t access the wi-fi so I assume it’s fine and continue.
10:52 – It’s really hot and I’m aware that I am now glugging my tea back like it’s water. I also want my cookie but the size of it is so ridiculous that I grow self-conscious about taking it out of my bag so I leave it.
10:53 – The album starts with ‘Give Life Back To Music’ which is a proper band song and not typical of Daft Punk’s previous work. I write down things like “groove-led” and “properly ’70s key party”.
10:58 – ‘The Game Of Love’ is the second song we hear and it features a lot of vocodered vocals. It is, as I noted, a bit boring to be honest.
11:04 – Now then, ‘Giorgio By Moroder’ is properly amazing. It’s also over nine minutes long, but like Justin Timberlake’s ‘Mirrors’, it doesn’t feel that long. It’s basically Moroder narrating his musical career over slinky guitar and some vintage synths. There’s an amazing bit where he says “my name is Hansjörg Giorgio Moroder, but people call me Giorgio” and suddenly the whole thing goes mental, with massive synth riffs bouncing off the walls. After each freak out bit it all calms down again before a new section comes in and then by the end all the elements sort of careen into each other. It’s a lot to take in. I note that one bit sounds like Linkin Park, but perhaps that’s the dehydration.
11:13 – ‘Within’ feels like a bit of a breather after the madness of the previous song. Apparently Gonzales plays the jazz-y piano intro bit, which is good to know, but this is a bit loungey and feels like an interlude. There are some vocodered vocals on it which sound sort of hilarious, like someone just hit the “mopey” preset on a computer.
11:18 – Always in touch with the zeitgeist, ‘Instant Crush’ features Julian Casablancas and starts like a slowed down Strokes song (so is basically a Phoenix song). By this point my attention starts to wander and I realise that I need a wee quite badly. No one else has left the room so I have no idea what the etiquette is in terms of opening the door and allowing people that perhaps haven’t signed the legal document to hear a blast of music.
11:23 – I take a picture of a picture of Beyoncé that’s hanging up in the office. It’s taken from those Roseland shows she did to promote ’4′ a few years back. I think about perhaps going to find whoever’s working on the current Beyoncé campaign and seeing if they know what the fuck’s going on.
11:24 – ‘Lose Yourself To Dance’ is the album’s second Pharrell Williams collaboration and it is very ‘funky’. The BPM is quite slow which is annoying as the chorus is “lose yourself to dance” and frankly I need something a bit faster. Still, once you get used to it the song makes more sense and there’s a great bit where Pharrell sings “here take my shirt and just wipe off the sweat”.
11:30 – This next one (‘Touch’) is the album’s epic centre, not least because it’s around the halfway mark of the album but also because it’s got loads of strings on it. It features Paul Williams on vocals, and apparently he is really quite famous but I’d not heard of him. This caused some shock at the end of the playback when this confession was made known. Anyway, ‘Touch’ is a bit all over the place, but good. I write “ambitious” in my notes.
11:39 – Next up is the single, which you’ve heard. It’s longer on the album at just over six minutes.
11:44 – I really need a wee. ‘Beyond’ isn’t helping because it’s quite slow and a bit dull. There’s also a picture of Pink squatting above the head of one of the journalist’s and it’s unsettling me slightly.
11:50 – ‘Motherboard’ features a flute. A FLUTE! It sort of meanders about a bit for a couple of minutes before a big fat synth wobbles comes in and it all gets quite exciting. Again it’s quite Epic. According to my notes it “ends with what sounds like someone using the loo”.
11:56 – This next one, ‘Fragments Of Time’, features Todd Edwards who appeared on ‘Discovery’ and it is very good indeed. It sounds like summer. There’s a great line in it which goes something like, “I’ll just keep playing back these fragments of time, everywhere I go there’s more ways to shine”. It will obviously be a single.
11:57 – My poor white chocolate cookie.
12:03 – Up next is laughing boy Panda Bear on a song called ‘Doin’ It Right’, which is again quite groove-led and not quite as fast as you want it to be. It is, as I have noted, “all tension and no release”.
12:05 – It feels like we’ve all been here quite a while now. Also, this doesn’t sound like an album that reveals its ‘goods’ on one listen.
12:08 – Right, the last song, ‘Contact’. It starts with an actual recording from an actual astronaut and just as he says “there’s something out there” a big church organ-style synth comes in and it all gets very dramatic. I let out a bit of a laugh because the sudden shift is quite amusing. Again it takes in lots of different ‘movements’ almost, with new elements appearing and then falling away at will. It ends with a weird synth rush that sounds like a kettle boiling but is probably just the sound of a rocket taking off. In fact, that sound then continues for about a minute and gets louder and louder until it’s almost unbearable. Then the kettle/rocket takes off and everything seems to disintegrate as if it’s all going backwards and then it stops.
12:09 – We all sort of let out a sigh and laugh a bit because that last one was quite a lot to take.
12:10 – I am about to wet myself.
12:15 – We say our goodbyes and I go to the toilet.
12:22 – I eat my cookie on the tube back to Liverpool Street.
Seven things I learned at P’!'nk’s London ‘gig’ the other night
Apr 26 2013, 11:55
This is Pink.
The turning point for P’!'nk the performer seems to have come during the 2010 Grammy awards when she did ‘Glitter In The Air’ while dressed in a swimming costume, wrapped in a bed sheet and suspended about twenty feet in the air. She even managed to not electrocute herself after being dunked in a paddling pool full of water.
While she’d been doing this sort of stuff (and more) on the 2009 Funhouse tour, it was this Grammy performance that seemed to give Pink the confidence to carry on experimenting with the various ways a popstar should deliver a song on a stage. By the time she performed ‘Try’ at the 2012 American Music Awards, she was throwing a topless male dancer around what looked like the set of Neighbours while covered in chalk. All of this while actually singing live, which of course isn’t a necessity, but is still pretty impressive what with all the breathing and such like that goes into it all.
Anyway, all this means that her current The Truth About Love world tour is a proper spectacle, with more complicated and potentially painful set-ups than an episode of Total Wipeout.
To cut a long story short, I went along to see the ‘Dear Mr President’ hitmaker ‘in action’ at London’s O2 last night and here are 7 things I learned.
PINK HAS SOME GOOD MERCHANDISE
Among the key rings, make-up bags and tight-fitting vests adorning the merchandise stall in the O2, my eye was of course drawn towards a fluro pink onesie hanging nonchalantly in the corner.
There it is to your right.
I saw someone wearing a onesie in public the other day, which is clearly against the rules of general society, but there’s nothing wrong with lounging about at home in a Truth About Love onesie, even if it does cost £80 (!).
THAT ALBUM COVER ISN’T GETTING ANY BETTER IS IT
Last year saw a bit of a trend for pictures of female popstars squatting, be it in the street like Carly Rae Jepsen, or just sort of hovering like Pink is on the cover of her latest album.
I was in a record company office the other week and was forced to sit below a giant picture of the cover, making it seem as if Pink was about to ‘unload’ on my head.
COMPERES AT ‘GIGS’ DON’T REALLY WORK TO BE HONEST
Ten minutes before Pink was due to ‘take the stage’ last night a man sporting a sparkly suit started clambering over the seats around the arena and generally making a nuisance of himself. At one point he unbuttoned a man’s shirt against his will, span a lady’s ponytail without permission and licked this poor man’s head.
He later appeared on stage to introduce the ‘theme’ of the show, which seemed to be based around the previously untouched concept of love and how it’s all a bit of a rollercoaster.
Whenever Pink was off getting into another leotard or strapping herself into a rocket, the man would do a ‘hilarious’ set piece, which usually seemed at odds with what was coming next (at one point he went on about spanking and biting and sniffing crotches before Pink emerged attached to a bungee chord for a very seriousface run through of ‘Try’).
PINK DOESN’T REALLY GIVE A SHIT ABOUT HER OWN SAFETY
Right, I’m not normally a panicky person but there were moments during the ‘gig’ where I gasped and squirmed and generally thought that at any moment poor Pink was about to be flung across the stadium.
During ‘Sober’ she and about eight dancers clambered inside a giant revolving metallic ball thing, which was then suspended twenty feet in the air. Crash mats had been laid out underneath in case one of them fell out because no one – NOT EVEN PINK – was actually strapped in.
Also, she didn’t just sit in it calmly, she actually started walking about OUTSIDE the ball. She was basically running around the outside of climbing frame suspended in the air and rotating faster than a washing machine on a spin cycle. There was a definite sense that the crash mats were there for insurance reasons and not to actually save lives (chiefly because if she had slipped she would have ended up at the bar at the back of the O2).
THERE MIGHT BE ALL SORTS OF HIGHWIRE SHENANIGANS BUT PINK IS AN OLD-FASHIONED ENTERTAINER
Despite the dazzling set pieces, Pink is a fairly old-fashioned performer. There are no self-help mantras or gushing tributes to her own brilliance. She forgets her lyrics and jokes about it, swears a bit (but then apologises) and introduces her band and dancers like anyone really cares. Also, during a cover of ‘Wicked Game’ (!), the screens at the side of the stage showed everything in black and white to connote seriousness.
While there’s a sort of concept thing hovering over proceedings, it doesn’t dominate – Pink just gets on with rattling through the hits, signing autographs and wearing any of the things the fans at the front throw at her (including this fetching frog hat thing).
THE SINGLES FROM HER FIRST ALBUM ARE STILL REALLY GOOD
In an unexpected twist seeing as I assumed she didn’t really bother with them anymore, Pink performed an amazing medley of the singles from her first album, ‘Can’t Take Me Home’. Not in a ‘oh remember when I did R&B before I discovered angst LOL’ sort of way, but in a proper dance routines and everything way. ‘Most Girls’ especially is still a really amazing song.
PINK CAN FLY
Right, I was about to leave the O2 to get the tube back before the rush (as one does) but thought I might pop back in to see what was happening during ‘So What’. Well, and let’s not beat around the bush here, Pink was literally fucking flying all over the place. It was one of the most amazing/terrifying things I have ever seen and I’ve seen Pitbull live. As if being flung around a massive fucking arena weren’t enough she also had time to land on a fairly small podium thing in the far corner, spin upside down and do a one-armed push up.
There were tears, tantrums and a build-up to a climactic gig that felt like it lasted longer than the careers of half of the acts involved, but last night The Big Reunion finally came to an end with a glorious 90 minute special featuring highlights from their London show.
There was of course the obligatory high drama – 90% of which was provided by Michelle Heaton spectacularly overreacting to a barely noticeable stage slip – but on the whole it was actually rather lovely.
It would have been very easy for this series to encourage us to laugh at the faded dreams of second-tier acts like 911 and The Honeyz, but instead it allowed us to see what fleeting fame had cost these people, and how difficult it had been for them to adapt when it was all snatched away. A closing shot of The Honeyz clinging tearfully to each other after a triumphant performance of ‘Finally Found’ was an unexpected lump-in-throat moment.
Even the characters you expected to view as villains – Heaton, Kerry Katona, Sean from Five – were presented as fully-rounded human beings rather than caricatures. When Katona joined the show despite having left Atomic Kitten after just four singles, I expected it to be nothing more than another half-hearted brand extension for her seemingly endless low-rent reality TV career, but reuniting with her pop sisters and actually having a tangible goal to work towards seemed to give her a sense of purpose, and as the weeks went on she emerged as one of the most sympathetic figures on the show.
So now they get to go off on an arena tour and live the dream for a little bit longer.
As the show was a big hit, a sequel seems inevitable, so I’ll close with some suggestions for the one-time stars I’d like to find myself writing about this time next year:
Like the time his wife’s band did a duet with Mathew Marsden out of Corrie, Jay Z probably doesn’t talk about – or even remember – the time he made a record with Dane Bowers and chums. But it happened, readers, it happened. Also ‘Freak Me’ was a bit of a tune.
S Club 7
Huge in the 90s, unjustly forgotten now. Get Louise Redknapp back into the fold; force them all to talk about the time the Bennett sisters dumped Celebrity Love Island star Kelle Bryan by fax (fax!) and you’ve got yourself a show.
Like Blue they never technically split up, and in fact they’re still big in Norway where Ben Adams was recently a contestant on their version of Dancing With The Stars. But with ‘Caught In The Middle’ they proved it was possible for boybands to ‘go a bit serious’ without becoming unspeakably dreadful. For that alone – and ‘Be The First To Believe’, which was incredible – they deserve another shot.
Amazing songs, obviously. But even if ‘Pure Shores’, ‘Black Coffee’ and ‘Never Ever’ weren’t solid gold 11/10 pop moments, the round-table confrontation scenes between this lot would make Five’s infighting look about as dramatic as an episode of Chasing The Saturdays.
Because I can never hear the story about Brian Harvey accidentally running himself over after a baked potato binge too many times.
Eight weeks into The Big Reunion and I’m no longer sure I can remember a life before my Thursday nights consisted of watching middle-aged pop singers attempting to bodypop with dodgy ankles and having emotional moments in front of the camera.
I’m worried that when – if – the show comes to an end, I’ll lose all grip on reality and end up wandering the streets, grabbing total strangers and asking them if they know what Girls@Play are up to these days.
Until then, here are some things that happened this week. A lot of them will probably happen next week too, and every week forever more, until we’re all watching a bunch of desiccated skeletons arguing over who gets to sing lead on ‘Whole Again’.
Honeyz fashion wars
The Honeyz are in a panic because the costume designer isn’t keen on them reviving their ‘signature blue jackets’ look. If, like me, you’re upset at the thought of having to accept the Honeyz in anything other than this timeless, iconic ensemble, you’ll be relieved to hear that they got their way.
The Post-Blue Blues
Because Blue were late to the party, a lot of this episode was taken up with reassuring us that life after pop stardom was just as wretched for the ‘Fly By II’ hitmakers as it was for everyone else on this show. Duncan struggled to come to terms with his sexuality, Simon’s solo career fizzled out, Lee was forced to flee the country and Antony ended up losing his house. On the plus side, they all seem to have enjoyed Eurovision.
Popstars are just a big bunch of Batmophobes
This is apparently the medical term for a crippling fear of stairs. Celena from the Honeyz visibly quivers, and Jessica from Liberty X turns the air blue when they hear that they’re going to have to walk and sing at the same time. Not to be unsympathetic, but last time I saw P’!'nk in concert she got fired out of a bloody cannon. Maybe there’s a reason some people end up on shows like this…
But a staircase is nothing compared to The Mechanical Toaster of Doom
Remember that amazing bit in Beyoncé’s Super Bowl performance where Kelly and Michelle popped up from beneath the ground for a Destiny’s Child medley? That’s totally de rigueur for pop shows now, and it’s put the shits right up Liz from Atomic Kitten, who darts offstage like a startled deer when a practice shot doesn’t go to her liking.
The Andi Peters voiceover gets more ridiculous with every episode
Choice lines from this week’s show:
“With less enormous testicles than he’d thought, Anthony Costa had hit rock bottom…”
“It was a gamble, but with the taste of kangaroo anus came a new taste of life in the spotlight…”
“Despite launching a solo career, Simon was flailing in existential quicksand”
There was also a Lee Ryan/Saving Private Ryan pun so dodgy it actually defies the written word. Only a man who spent the first half of his career conversing with a crudely designed mallard could get through all that with a straight face.
Next week – thank you sweet merciful creator – they actually do get on stage for the Hammersmith show. This might just mean the end is nigh – though I’m sure they can stretch it out for another episode or seven with another shot of creative last-minute casting. Seriously, what are Girls@Play up to these days?
As ITV2’s The Big Reunion marches towards its inevitable and yet strangely drawn-out conclusion, the various groups continue to rehearse for the upcoming tour, a new act is airlifted in for no apparent reason, and I enjoy the surreal experience of watching the Abs/z hat on TV while actually wearing the Abs/z hat on my sofa.
Here are the highlights:
Bloody hell – it’s Blue!
The episode starts with the announcement that for mysterious reasons, mid-00s boyband and Eurovision survivors Blue will be joining the show.
This is predictably the cause of some “dramatic tension”, as the other bands scowl meaningfully at the new arrivals and slope off down to the pub for a good bitching session – with the full camera crew in tow, obviously.
On the plus side, the dawn of Blue means we get some classic Lee Ryan anecdotes, such as Duncan’s remembrances of how they first met: “He was having an argument with someone on the phone, next thing he just smashed the screen into his head. I thought – oh my God, you’re a nutter.”
On another occasion, the boys were staying in an upmarket hotel when Lee decided to make a rock ‘n’ roll statement by setting off all the fire extinguishers in the lobby. “It was hilarious,” cackles Lee. “It was so embarrassing,” cringes Duncan. “I think he sprayed Alan Shearer,” muses cash machine piss artist Antony.
Edele from B*Witched gets that look in her eye…
It was all denim nostalgia and vague lesbian undertones in the early stages of the B*Witched reconciliation, but now a return to the spotlight is looming and lead singer Edele appears to be turning into a bit of a monster – intimidating the other three with some casual Mariah screeching during vocal rehearsals and throwing some terrifying passive aggression at Duncan from Blue. They all seemed like such nice girls back in 1999…
Lee 911 wears his heart on his sleeve
Sad Panda of Pop Lee 911 is still having a hard time.
He turns up late and hungover to not one but two rehearsals, abandons the studio mid-song to throw up and has one of those awkward seems-scripted-but-sincere heart to hearts with estranged wife Lindsay (from B*Witched).
“If she asked me to take her back tomorrow, I would,” he admits. “We’re just friends,” she replies, with the kind firmness of someone who’s used to being the dumper rather than the dumpee.
Poor old Lee. You imagine that – while Lindsay’s been getting her sexy nun on – he’s spent much of the past year sitting in a darkened room listening to ‘Blame It On The Weatherman’ on a constant loop.
The Honeyz get hoofing
Mindful of their reputation for high-energy dance routines, The Honeyz are busy working with a choreographer on some brand new moves.
Heavenli worries aloud that learning new steps for ‘Won’t Take It Lying Down’ will be too much of a challenge at this late stage, overlooking the fact that as she wasn’t even in the group at the time of that song, all the moves should be new to her.
After a night of knocking back wine and dusting off the old leather catsuits, they decide to bite the bullet and inform the choreographer that they intend to do things their way.
And finally… the obligatory Abs/z quote of the week:
Gently removing a cup of tea from an angry Scott:
“The dairy isn’t helping your whole vibe right now…”
Next week, Sean from Five shows his human side, something happens to Tony from Liberty X and Antony Costa reveals how life after Blue saw him go “from Tony Montana to Derek Trotter”.
Also, they might actually get on stage at some point. Possibly. I’ll keep you informed.