Wednesday, 18 July 2012

The Top 5: Olympic Songs

With the Olympics just a sniff away, I thought I'd do a rundown of the top 5 official (and unofficial) Olympic Songs, particularly as that Muse one is so terrible.

Of course, you want an Olympic song to be strident and preachy and where better to start than with old Whitters...

5. One Moment In Time

The 1988 Seoul Olympics song is your classic power ballad, dripping with the requisite aspirational shiz that Americans love (and, let's be honest, do pretty well).

It's all dreams, self-determination, destiny and being free, and belted right to the back row by the dear-departed Whitney Houston.

Nobody could have done it better, although there is the slight whiff of anti-commie propaganda, which I'm willing to overlook just this once.

Entertainment Weekly called it a "majestic carpe diem chest-thumper" and who are we to argue?

4. Amigos Para Siempre

Ah, the summer of 1992 when Spain was in vogue as literally tens of people tuned into Eldorado and the Olympics landed in Barcelona.

This forgotten gem was understandably outshone in a lot of the coverage by Barcelona sung by Freddie Mercury and Monserrat Caballe; an anthem made all the more emotional because Freddie Mercury had died the previous November.

This chugs along nicely and says all the right things about international friendship and how pleasant we should all be to one another.

The cheesy Spanish guitars place this firmly middle of the road. And in this case (only), that's no bad thing.

3. Reach

Oh Glo, you outdid yourself with this spine-tingling drum-fest. Very well done indeed.

The dreams, digging deep and grasping eternity metaphors - evoked so well in One Moment In Time - are back (with bells on) and we're invited to reach and once that reaching has been achieved, all will be well with the world.

The drums are a masterstroke and Gloria's stirring performance lifts this above the usual power ballad territory. Smart stuff.

2. You And Me

Oh, hello, Sarah Brightman's back for Beijing 2008 looking a little tauter in the face, but moving on...

Another duet for our Sarah, this time with Liu Huan, who's a big deal in "Mandopop" and a music professor to boot.

It's a lot simpler than Sarah's previous effort and is all the better for it. We're told that we are 'all family' meeting in Beijing, with a strong choral background providing many voices to underline the point.

(On a side note, the performance at the Opening Ceremony is awesome. THEY'RE ON A FUCKING GLOBE!)

And here's the HQ version:

1. Dancing Queen

Alright, I know, it's not an official Olympic song, but for me nothing captures the spirit of togetherness (and by extension, the Olympics) more than an uplifting singalong.

Performed at the Sydney 2000 Opening Ceremony, Dancing Queen is a genius choice, even if it's not about the Games.

Kylie knocks this one out of the stadium, even though you suspect her hat's going to fly off and injure a small child in the audience. She has spoken in interviews how this performance was like a renewal in her life, when she discovered her inner showgirl.

Without this performance, us gays would be a lot glummer.

Thank you, Sydney.

Turn this UP!

Have a good Olympics!

Monday, 16 July 2012

My Latitude

I've concluded that going to a festival is like having a baby. You have no real idea what it's like until you experience it for yourself.

So, at the tender age of 35, I set out last weekend for my first ever festival: Latitude in Suffolk with some friends.

I'd always been put off by the cost, the hassle, the mud, and most importantly, festival wankers. The sort of people you see walking around sporting a litany of coloured wristbands (even though it's fucking November) like trophies of smugness.

But any reservations I had evaporated the instant I stepped onto the site. There was the buzz of people, the thrum of music from distant stages and the tempting smell of the burgers.

It's safe to say I loved it.

Yes, the weather was rubbish at times, and yes the beer was expensive, but in the end it didn't matter because the 'fuck it' mentality takes over and it's addictive.

Until this weekend, I have never had a conversation in the *middle* of a dancefloor with a part-time beekeeper about Mark 1 Ford Escorts.

The music wasn't bad either.

After this weekend, I can thoroughly recommend Sharon van Etten, Lianne La Havas and Bon Iver, artists who had previously passed me by.

The wonderful M83 were... wonderful. I love how slick, produced artists translate their sets into guitar-heavy, mosh-athons.

Comedy-wise, Josie Long was engagingly ranty about the shits in government, but the highlight for me was Pappy's who performed their new show, Last Show Ever! I laughed like a loon, although admittedly under the influence of Tuborg. If you get a chance, see it. And meeting them afterwards was a bonus!


But what really made it perfect was laughing with my friends at the various stupid things we did and said, none of which I could commit to this blog in a way that conveys how funny they were. Even the Princess Diana stuff. You really had to be there. And be us.

As I write this, the day after, I'm dehydrated, tired and ill. But grinning like an idiot.

So that's festivals then.

I even had to think twice about cutting my wristband off.

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Mr Blue Sky V

Aah. A typical summer scene.

Typical for me anyway.

Often on my drive home from work in the afternoon, I take a scenic route across the Berkshire Downs near the Uffington White Horse.

The other day, I was struck by the yellowy-green of the fields contrasted with the blueness of the sky.

So I Instagrammed the shit out of it.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Too Old To Be Watching Cartoons?

I'll admit it. I've been watching cartoons.

I'm in my (ahem) mid 30s. Should I be doing this?

Well, I suppose I could get caught doing much worse. But what lies at the heart of this is my love of Tron.

I remember being taken to see the first Tron movie way back in the early 80s, and being won over with its 'futuristic' style and state-of-the-art computer graphics.

Fast forward 17 years and the first promo for Tron Legacy had my heart racing.

The actual film was, to be honest, devoid of charm and a decent script - even the CGI of Jeff Bridge's face was shonky.

But I loved the design, the updated 'futuristic' vision, and - oh - the light cycle sequence. The soundtrack courtesy of Daft Punk was also a winner.

And now comes Tron: Uprising, a new cartoon from Disney XD and I'm hooked.

It's set between the two Tron films and tells the story of Beck, a young freedom fighter taking on the oppressive regime of... er, computery evil shits.

Without wanting to sound like a purist wanker, the slick design elements and the funky uber-cyber soundtrack of Tron Legacy have been successfully carried over into the cartoon.

But more importantly, it's a weekly dose of Tron.