Friday, June 09, 2006

Week in pop (or not) June 9th 2006

I would normally be waxing lyrical about the ins and outs on showbiz in the week in pop, but the sun's come out and the World Cup kicks off in a few hours, so quite frankly my mind is on other things. Let's take a quick break from the norm and delve into both those subjects for a change :

The Sun

It might be running a good 27° outside as I type this, and I went out to Decathlon this morning under a beautiful blue sky dressed like the man from Del Monté (but minus the hat). I fucking love summer me. What makes it even more enjoyable is that we had the crappiest May weather I can remember for a while - it seemed like we had one big wall of dust, pollen and potential rainfall hanging over Paris for the whole bloody month. Even on the days where it looked quite clear when you got up, it would still end up clouding over and getting all windy and rainy by about three in the afternoon. Hence, you walk to work without a coat on and then end up freezing 'em off on the way home. Rrrrrrrrubbish!!! I mean, I was already bummed out for most of the month due to various matters (no cash, impending birthday, romantic wrangles etc) but this spate of shite weather nearly fucking did me in. I'm serious. I turned into Oscar the fucking Grouch for pretty much the entire month. Every time it looked like it was going to end, the clouds came back and the wind picked up just to blow loads of shit in your eyes and mess up your hair. In my best Alan Hansen accent, it was 'ABSERLUTERLEY TEHRRRIBBLE'.
So when the proper sunshine started this week, it was like coming up for air after a month locked in some kind of sweaty bedroom. I got so excited that I did the typically English thing of getting sunburnt on the first day of nice weather! But I don't care - I'm happy for it to stay like this for ages now. I am creaming myself up properly before going out, but I don't mind cos I want to spend as much time outdoors as possible. The best thing about this sort of weather in Paris is that the ladies actually start to dress correctly for once - it's not myth that French ladies have splendid figures and a very chic way of carrying themselves, but they cunningly counterbalance this by wearing too many clothes for most of the year and scowling all the fucking time. The first week or so of good weather, they drop the scarves and skirt/trouser combos and start to dress nice, and they even look like they're enjoying themselves. This never lasts though, cos a couple of weeks of hot weather is enough to turn them all grumpy again and make every conversation you have with them about how bloody hot it is and how much they'd prefer to be in the countryside. You can't win.

The World Cup

If looking at stunning French ladies strutting around the capital isn't enough, the casual observer can also get his thrills watching a bunch of blokes from countries he's never even heard thrash it out against each other in Germany for the best part of a month. It doesn't get much better than this! I am off to watch the Mannschaft play their opening game against Costa Rica with some German buddies later today, and from then on I plan to position myself in front of a sports screen for the next few weeks solid. I'm normally no massive footy fan, but the World Cup is different - as much as you might want to poo-poo football, it is still the world's first sport and you can bet a fair portion of the population of Europe, Latin America, Africa and a good few other spots around the world will be tuning in for this if they happen to be anywhere near a TV. At work, all our Brazilian students have high-tailed it over the border to watch the matches in Germany, and everyone seems to be expecting great things from this tournament. True, it might turn out to be a load of old wank once again, but there are gonna be some cracking moments all the same. Some of my earliest memories are of watching pop videos and the World Cup on telly back in the day, and I can still remember most of Italia '90 despite it being a fair while ago. As I'm no football pundit, I will refrain from making any rash predictions on who is going to win, but I quite fancy Argentina or Spain myself. The British press has been getting itself into fits of feverish anticipation over the last week, so let's hope we don't piss on our chips and go out in the first round. My adoptive home country also seem to be capable of doing great things if they can play as a team again, so hopefully we'll both make it into the later stages. The clash I've been looking forward to the most is tomorrow, not England vs Paraguay but Ivory Coast vs Argentina - Paris has a fairy large Ivorian population and even a few of them can create enough noise to make you think that they're about to storm the Bastille, so that should be pretty good. The Argies are also my personal Gods of football - don't talk to me about Brazil, the guys in blue and white have tons more style and they NEED to win more than anyone. Best combination of European flair and South American passion, they will always be my number one (unless they're playing England that is). I visited Buenos Aires last year and Maradonna is pretty much on a par with Jesus Christ over there (plus, he's come back from the dead already and now has his own talk show). Should be a total carnival.
Music wise, I haven't heard the majority of football theme records that have been released for this year's tournament and quite frankly I would rather keep it that way - as I have previously opined on this blog, any reproduction between football and music often produces some seriously ugly kiddies. I have heard Embrace's attempt at a WC anthem, which is dreary enough to make an appropriate soundtrack to us scoring early and then defending like a big bunch of babbies for the rest of the match. Pfff. Indie rock is only ever linked to sport when it's played over shots of players walking forlornly off the pitch/track after gallantly fucking it all up, à la 'Walkaway' by Cast. Having said that, it's probably still a lot better than the shedload of xenophobic bollocks coming out that plays cleverly on the fact that the WC is taking place in Germany, who (in case you didn't know) have admitted defeat in not only two World Wars, but also one World Cup. Oh har de fucking har. Despite various anti-hooligan measures and celebrity campaigns to 'not mention the war', we still can't outgrow this playground bullshit once and for all can we? Apparently one of the biggest musical projects of the tournament is a re-working of the Dad's Army theme tune with the title of 'Who do you think you are kidding Jurgen Klinsmann?'. Great, so the best we can do in 2006 is a re-hash of some crap old Britcom with lyrics that some fat old Fleet Street hack could have thought up on his lunch break. Worse still (and unsurprisingly championed by the fucking S*n) is Stan Boardman's 'Aye Aye Ippy the Germans bombed our chippy' - Lord have mercy. It's enough to make you want to move to Scotland. Also, isn't it strange how the S*n are so keen to lay into old stereotypes on the Germans and then dismiss it as 'just a bit of a laugh', yet they got into such a flap about that new Ken Loach film being 'Anti-British'. Now who can't take a joke eh? (Incidentally, I'm not bigging up Ken Loach - his films are a load of cliché-riddled socialist bollocks most of the time. I haven't seen the new one but I'd be surprised if it breaks the mould. But if he wants to make films about brutal British foreign policy in Ireland, fair play on that one. The S*n should learn to shut the fuck up).

There have been a few half decent football records in the past, so here's a list of the ones I can actually listen to without wanting to smash the radio with a large rock :

EnglandNewOrder - World in Motion
Goes without saying I know, but this is one of the only examples of a band who were already making half-decent records going out and writing a half decent record for a half decent England team. Everyone of my generation knows the words to the John Barnes rap on this (and if they don't, David Blunkett should have their unpatriotic arse kicked into the Channel) and coincidentally it came out the last time we put in any sort of decent showing in the World Cup.

Mano Negra - Santa Maradonna
One of the coolest things about this tune is that the band singing it aren't even from the same country as the guy they're singing about. This is a lethal cocktail of punk rock, latin music, football and a big fat party vibe. If you don't know la Mano, check 'em out right now. If you haven't read El Diego's autobiography, check it out right now. You got that?

Dario G - Carnival de Paris
Aside from being a rare example of decent football themed music, this was also an even rarer example of a Europop act putting out more than one single that you can actually remember. Following the unfeasibly brilliant 'Sunchyme', which just missed number one in the week I headed off to Manchester to start university, Dario G brought this one out for the '98 World Cup and it kicked arse.

Fat Les - Vindaloo
From the same tournament, this perfectly captures the image of flabby, red-faced England fans dancing the conga around the stadium when they beat someone really crap in the first round. A national treasure.

That brass band tune they play at all the Holland games
I need help with a name on this one. But it rocks.

Pavarotti - Nessum Dorma
Italia '90 again. The Italians do great football, great food and fucking appalling music most of the time. But this is classy stuff.

The anti-Bertie Vogts song from USA '94
I was in Germany for the '94 finals and I remember there being a record high in the charts which basically slagged off the new German coach, who they all hated because he wasn't Franz Beckenbauer. The lyrics (from what I could make out in schoolboy German) were all unflattering comparisons between Bertie and Franz, ripping on him for being short and ugly and stuff like that. Harsh but fair - they got knocked out by Bulgaria in the quarters, which I certainly enjoyed watching after they had all been crowing about how they were going to slay then five-nil.

That's about all for the moment - nothing much happened in the world of pop this week anyway, apart from that Gnarls Arsehole record giving up the number one position for the first time in about three months. Haven't heard the new top seller yet so I will wait before slagging it off. The only other noteworthy incident in music took place on my 27th birthday :

A group of nihilists are being blamed for the desecration of a Catholic church in New York this week, on National Day of Slayer.
The day of 'celebration' to commemorate the metal overlords is understood to have inspired carnage at a seminary in Yonkers on Tuesday.
Workers at St. Jospeh's, who asked not to be named, were met with blasphemous scenes on arriving at work on June 7, the day after the anniversary.
The building was defiled with spray-painted pentagrams, upside-down crosses, while a statue of Jesus was daubed with pentagrams.
A series of Slayer-inspired graffiti was also left at the scene, including "Reign In Blood", the title of group's seminal 1986 album, reports MTV.
Apparently the National Day of Slayer was promoted this year by a website affiliated with the American Nihilist Underground Society, who called on fans to listen to the band's music on June 6.
They also advised fans kill a "neighbor's dog" and spray-paint "Slayer logos on churches, synagogues or cemeteries."

- Ho ho!! Of course I don't condone this sort of juvenile vandalism, but how many other groups make music that inspire people to 'kill their neighbour's dog'??? Slayer fucking RULE!!