Saturday, 30 April 2011

Summer songs - Sweet Child O' Mine - Guns 'n' Roses

I don't think we've delved into my rock chick side enough. In a parallel universe, I am a rock groupie hanging out in LA with bands like Guns 'n' Roses circa 1987. I love Appetite for Destruction possibly more than words can describe. It's hard to pick a favourite as I adore Paradise City and Welcome to the Jungle but if pushed, it would have to be Sweet Child O' Mine. It took me a lost weekend to master it on Guitar Hero. Which everyone knows is the same as real guitar.

Guns 'n' Roses were the perfect rock band. They looked the part. They had the best band name ever. They did copious amount of drugs and they wrote songs like this. A song that makes you want to throw open all the windows, crank up the volume and move somewhere with 365 days of sunshine and a beach. Somewhere like LA.

When I lived in Albuquerque, this song was on the jukebox all the time in the one and only Joe's Bar (I hear on good authority it is still there). Every time it came on me and my partner in crime would wig out maaaaaaaaaaan. We loved it. Especially if we were playing pinball at the same time. Living the dream baby.

It goes without saying that I had a crush on Slash. Over 18 million views on YouTube and we're allowed to share it. Thank you Axl.

Adam Ant

Adam Ant holds a special place in my heart as he was the first pop star that I adored. Who can blame me? He was pure pantomime pop and actually, gorgeous. Amazing bone structure. Johnny Depp can claim he took inspiration from Keith Richards for his Captain Sparrow but I think Adam Ant was an influence as well.

As a bonus he did real pop music. I still love Stand & Deliver , Prince Charming, Ant Music, Goodie Two Shoes. He's had a very tough time with mental health problems and I always cluck like a mother hen when I hear about them as I have such a soft spot for him. He was an act that really understood the power of image and he pulled it off like no other pop star from the 80s.

There was a bit of an obsession with highway men in the early 80s - anyone remember the TV show Dick Turpin with Richard O'Sullivan?! Adam did it slightly better.

Friday, 29 April 2011

When Harry Met Sally

When Harry Met Sally is quite simply the best Woody Allen film Woody Allen didn't make. I adore it. I can probably quote every line in it. My all-time favourite line in this and in fact, in any movie is: "You made a woman miaow?" Here it is:

Fantastic! This is a film where everybody is at the top of their game. Meg Ryan is yet to be annoying (although it didn't take long), Billy Crystal is always wonderful but I love him in this, Bruno Kirby (RIP) is great and Carrie Fisher is, well, who doesn't love Carrie Fisher? "Someone is staring at you in personal growth!"

Nora Ephron wrote the script. Rob Reiner directed it and Harry Connick sung his way through it. Perfection. Also, has New York ever looked better on screen? I never tire of watching it although I do think the orgasm scene is the least interesting scene in the film.

One of my favourite scenes is this one. Sally - thinks she's low maintenance but is really high maintenance as we can see here. Enjoy!

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Opening credits - Cheers

One of the best sitcoms of all time, Cheers. If you didn't watch this, then I feel sorry for you as it was awesome. It had a rather wistful little theme tune but I used to love it and sing along happily every week. Also, very unusual credits in that you didn't see any actors, just drawings of ye olde worlde people in a bar.

The theme of Cheers was loneliness and how the people in the bar were their real friends even if they really annoyed them. It has some of the best characters in sitcom world. Carla was hilarious.

Norm: "I have on several occasions been known to perspire a bit."
Carla: "We could grow rice."

Norm. I loved Norm.
Woody: "What's going on Mr Peterson?"
Norm: "What's going *in" Mr Peterson. A beer please Woody."

I could quote them all. The show that brought us the wonderful Frasier and the even better Lilleth. Cliff and his stream of useless facts boring everyone to death. Woody and his lovable dimness. Diana and her pseudo-intellectual posturing and of course, Sam. Yes, once upon a time Ted Danson was a sex symbol and if you don't know why, you never saw Cheers.

Everyone wants a neighbourhood bar like Cheers. Where everybody knows your name.

Summer songs - Kid Creole and the Coconuts, Stool Pigeon

I think Kid Creole and the Coconuts win the award for most summery sounding band. The name makes you want to hang out in a bar on a Caribbean island drinking rum punch. I consider Stool Pigeon to be their masterpiece. I do love a song that tells you a whole story and Stool Pigeon does it so well. My favourite lyric: "So go on and squeal said the FBI, we can make a deal, make it worth your while." Cha ha ha ha!

I can't find the video on YouTube which is a crying shame but here's the song. Throw the windows open and dance like nobody's watching. Enjoy!

Monday, 25 April 2011

Power Ballads - Don't Cry For Me Argentina - Julie Covington

While I am having a bit of an Andrew Lloyd Webber moment, I think it's time for another power ballad and this is one of my favourites. Actually I am not sure this is technically a power ballad but hey ho, let's go with it. Another song I associate with my childhood, my mum and I once drove to London and listened to this song over and over and over. Subsequently, I know every word and every note.

Now, you know I love Madonna but I did not enjoy her in Evita. You google this song and all you get are images of Madonna. Sacrilege! Apparently this is what Julie looks like. She nailed this and it is the only version I can listen to. I am also horrified Glee recorded it. Take it away Julie...

Gone with the Wind

Gone with the Wind was a key part of my childhood. My mother took me and my sister to see this at the cinema when I was about nine or so. All I could fixate on were the dresses - so flouncy and pretty! The scene where Scarlett is getting ready for the barbecue is just perfect and look at the dress she wears.

It's divine. I don't really know any little girl who wouldn't have been entranced. And I love this scene:

In the book it explains that Scarlett sits there and not at a table as you can only have two sides at a table and she wants the men to be all around her! Genius.

It took a little longer for me to appreciate everything else about GWTW. The very definition of an epic movie, it's as watchable today as it was 70 years ago. If you've only ever seen the film, you could be excused for being puzzled as to why Scarlett is so in love with Ashley Wilkes. I have nothing against Leslie Howard but he is not right as Ashley. In the book, Ashley is much more attractive and dashing and crucially, younger. I am rereading the book now. I don't know how many times I have read it but I never grow weary of it. I am reading it on my Kindle which is a revelation as the book is rather heavy. Despite having read it numerous times, I am still hooked. Margaret Mitchell has a beautiful writing style and the story zips by. In one chapter Scarlett gets married, widowed and has a baby! Talk about a pacey read. If you've not read it and you have any interest at all in the civil war, American history generally and like a good love story then give it a go. It's a very easy read. But be warned, it's tragic. Much more so than the film.

Back to the film. They had to cut so much from the book - Scarlett actually has three children. There is a scene they change from the book inexplicably and it has always annoyed me. It is when Melanie gives her wedding ring first to The Cause in Atlanta. In the book, Scarlett gives her first because she doesn't care as she never loved Charles. Melanie moved by her generosity then gives hers. Of course Rhett can see straight through it all. Why do they change this in the film? I don't like it when films change the book for no reason whatsoever. That aside, it's a great movie and forms part of my family's in-jokes. My sister and I pull each other's hair like Scarlett does to Sue-ellen at the beginning of the film: "oh hush up!" We will say to each other "Scoot up the stairs!" as Scarlett does to Mammy. As I've said before, we're hilarious.

I have many favourite scenes in GWTW. There is the entire barbecue scene which depicts such a gloriously decadent way of life. There is the scene where Rhett proposes to Scarlett" "I can't wait my whole life waiting to catch you between husbands!" There is the scene where Scarlett decides to make (well Mammy makes it) the dress from the curtains. I have always loved this and look how clever they are:

If I had to pick one scene above all, it would be this one. The look on Scarlett's face when Rhett bids for her is priceless.

The story of GWTW is of course the story of Rhett and Scarlett. Why can't she see he is in love with her from day one? Why does she pine for wet Ashley? Why can't they talk to each other when they lose Bonnie? It's a tragedy to be sure. In the book the description of the kiss when he says goodbye to her and goes to join the war is unbelievably hot. The film can never quite capture it although it has a good go.

Vivien and Clark - perfect casting for a perfect film.

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Summer songs - DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince, Summertime

Oh come on, of course you love this song. Everyone loves this song. I have such a soft spot for Will Smith's singing career. I love Miami and Boom Shake the Room! I love Miami so much than when TeenBoy and I went to Miami, I insisted on playing it as we drove to South Beach. Don't you wish you were as cool as me?

Summertime is the sound of summer coming. I adore it, it's all fresh like a cotton t-shirt and rollerskates on a promenade. You can watch the video here or listen to the song below. It's got one of the great introductions in pop.

Jesus Christ Superstar

It's Easter Sunday. I am not a religious person however I bow at the altar of popular culture. I bring you Jesus Christ Superstar, one of the finest musicals by Andrew Lloyd Webber and the wonderful Tim Rice. When I was a youngster, Easter Sunday was often spent at my mum's cousin's family who lived in Kent. It may have only happened once but I distinctly remember watching JCS and being stunned and amazed at its genius. Did a film sum up the 70s as beautifully as this one? The costumes are amazing. And I loved the bus with the kids in Coca Cola t-shirts.

Here are my favourite songs.

King Herod's Song:


I Don't Know How To Love Him:

Everything's Alright:

I could listen to these songs all day long. Say what you like about Andrew Lloyd Webber but he knows how to write a catchy tune. For me, it's all about the finale. Check out the white fringing! And the wigs! Fantastic.

Happy Easter.

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Summer songs - La Dolce Vita, Ryan Paris

There is nothing like a summer song to make you feel at one with the world. Today was a glorious sunny day (except for the thunderstorm that hit later on this afternoon).  To mark the rare occasion of a sunny and hot Easter weekend, I am starting a new series of classic summer songs. And I start with this little gem. Some may have forgotten it but not me. I still love it. Over 235,000 have joined me in watching it on YouTube. God bless you one and all.

Enjoy! And here's to a long hot summer.

Top ten annoying female TV characters

I saw my sister yesterday (who I might have to give a guest slot as she gets mentioned so often) and we were watching Gilmore Girls and I said how annoying Rory is. Whereas she conceded she could be annoying, she maintained that there was no way Rory would make a top ten list of all-time annoying TV characters.  After some animated discussion, I had to agree with her. Sorry Rory, you don't make my list. I have kept it to females as they kept getting mentioned but I don't want to be unsisterly so I shall do my best to compile a male list some time soon.

Here we go:

10. Amy Gardener (Mary-Louise Parker) from The West Wing. Everytime she was on screen I felt my teeth starting to tingle with irritation. I hated the way MLP portrayed her, so mannered and affected. I think she was meant to be a bit kooky but I wanted to hurl cushions at the TV. Thank heavens they wrote her out.

9. Joey Potter (Katie Holmes) from Dawson's Creek. Now then, I liked Joey in seasons one and two of DC. She was OK in seasons three and four because she was dating Pacey and gave us some classic Pacey moments. However, by season five I wanted to kill her but not before I had hacked her horrible orange hair off. As my sister so famously said at the time "all she does is wheel out her dead mum as an excuse for why she needs sympathy." We're known for compassion in our family.

8. Grace Adler (Debra Messing) from Will & Grace. I wanted to like her and to be fair, she wasn't all bad. I loved that the network cast someone with abundant ginger curls who wasn't classically pretty. This is not in any way a criticism of Debra Messing who I quite liked. But they made her character so pathetic. She lives in Manhattan, in a fabulous apartment, has a great job and a cool gay best friend. Yet she whinges all the time. When she was given some fun lines, I liked her but she wasn't given enough of them. All she ever wanted was a boyfriend and she was in love with her gay best friend which I do not believe actually really happens. Your gay friends are gay. You love them but you don't have a crush on them. Because they are gay. Maybe I am too well adjusted.

7. Pam Ewing (Victoria Principal) from Dallas. Just looking at that picture above is bringing me out in a rash and it's been well over 20 years. My supreme irritation with Pam can be summed up by her trademark line: "I need more time." The woman could never make a decision about anything. She would sanctimoniously stride into either JR or Cliff's office and shout at them and then whimper away with either Bobby Ewing or Mark (from Houston!) A disgrace to all women.

6. Phoebe Halliwell (Alyssa Milano) from Charmed. Charmed was my guilty pleasure and I shall blog about it soon. Everyone in this was annoying but none quite so much as Phoebe. They made her such a skank, I think that's what bothered me and it's hardly Alyssa's fault. She was bratty and mainly horrible.

5. Krystle Carrington (Linda Evans) from Dynasty. I can't think of anything positive to say about Krystle. Oh yes I can - when she had catfights with Alexis and showed some spine. Other than that, all she did was mope. Why did she marry Blake? WHY? Always put in powder blue, pink or some silvery shade to bring out her eyes, Krystle was the archetypal wet blanket. She quivered, she trembled, she had watery eyes and would whisper "Blake!" like a kicked puppy. I loathed her.

4. Alison Parker (Courtney Thorne-Smith) from Melrose Place. This isn't Courtney's fault but I don't like her face so it didn't start well for us. Something about her mouth. Then they make her the most exasperating character in Melrose (and boy, was there competition). Defined by her love for Billy (who was a plank of wood) Alison was a royal pain in the arse. Amanda was horrid to her and we loved Amanda for it. At no point did one ever feel remotely sorry for wet Alison who dripped around bleating that people were mean and turning to the bottle. Wish she'd drowned in it.

3. Now we are getting properly into it. Ally McBeal (Calista Flockhart). She would be at number one except I actually couldn't watch this show because of her. This could have been a great tv programme - it introduced us to the wonderful Lucy Liu after all. But in the history of television, could any woman have been more excruciating? Waaaaaaaay too thin, in love with another woman's husband, self-obsessed. Arrrrgggghhh! I had to turn it off.

2. Carrie Bradshaw (Sarah Jessica-Parker) from Sex and the City. A show about four kick-ass women living in Manhattan and they make the protagonist a wimpy, man-dependent, nightmare. Go figure. I really like SJP and so it pains me to have Carrie at number two but her obsession with being in a relationship infuriated me. She was horrible to Aidan (although I couldn't stand Aidan, he didn't deserve to have her cheat on him) and nobody said to her 'Hey, you are being a bitch". She is this high on my list because the show was so influential and a little more sisterhood would have been most welcome.

1. Kelly Taylor (Jennie Garth) from Beverly Hills 90210. Kelly Taylor was the bitch in the early seasons of 90210 and therefore quite fun. However, when Shannen left, the writers decided to make the show about her and her love for Dylan/Brendan. Dear lord. What a mistake. She floated around doing her psychology course (god help us all) and dolling out advice and words of 'wisdom' to anyone unfortunate enough to be in range. She was a class A bitch (it's ok to be a bitch when your character is to be a bitch but when you are meant to be nice, it's not) to Valerie and again, nobody called her on it. She got slightly burned in a fire and filled a whole season with her 'recovery' from one scar on her back (never her pretty face of course). For me all annoying TV characters are benchmarked against Kelly Taylor and none have topped her yet.

There we have it. A great way to start a Saturday, a good old vent!

Friday, 22 April 2011

Madonna - 90s

We've done 80s Madge, it is time for the 90s. For me, 90s Madonna is all about Vogue. One of my desert island songs that I never tire of hearing. "Marlon Brando, Jimmy Dean, on the cover of a magazine." It's fantabulous with one of the best videos ever made. Of course she did so much more than Vogue in the 90s but what a way to introduce us to the decade.

In the 90s she really ramped up the controversy with her Sex book and the fantastic Truth or Dare (aka In Bed With Madonna). If you've not seen this film, you are missing out. It's over blown and ridiculous but any Madonna fan has to watch it. She dated Warren Beatty (lord knows why) and recorded Erotica. This has always been one of my favourite Madonna albums as it has Deeper and Deeper on it which is just a great disco song. She made League of Their Own which is a really cute film. And Ray of Light - another fantastic album (my favourite track is The Power of Goodbye because of the video with hot Goran*). Suddenly she was Earth mother because of course by now she had a kid.

Really, what did you do in the 90s? She certainly packed it in.

But, like I say, it's all about Vogue for me. Of course embedding of all Madonna songs is not allowed on YouTube so you can watch it here. And watch in awe at her dancing. And perky boobs.

*whatever happened to him?

Thursday, 21 April 2011

The Princess Bride

Few films are as quotable as The Princess Bride.

"As you wish"
"Is this a kissing book?"
"Hello my name is Inigo Montoya, you killed my father, prepare to die"
"This is true love. You think this happens every day?"
"You rush a miracle man, you get rotten miracles"
"Do you want me to send you back to where you were? Unemployed in Greenland?"
"You keep using that word, I do not think it means what you think it means"
"Life is pain princess"
"While you're at it, why don't you give me a nice paper cut and pour lemon juice on it?"
"There's a shortage of perfect breasts in this world, it would be a shame to damage yours"
"You're trying to kidnap what I've rightfully stolen"

And so on. I'll stop there. This is one of my all-time favourite films. A film that never fails to lift one's spirits. It's lovely, funny and magical. Everyone should be made to watch this film. Rob Reiner at the top of his directing game (before he made North) and Billy Crystal as wonderful as he always is. This film belongs to Cary Elwes though and I wonder if he gets bitter now, looking back and knowing he will never top this. He is completely perfect. As is Robin Wright. And Mandy Patinkin. It would be hard to go wrong with a cast and script as good as this but I think Rob adds his special touch.

I leave you with the trailer and advice to watch this film over the long weekend. Enjoy!

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Opening credits - Starksy & Hutch

The 70s. What a decade. So funky. No theme tune came funkier than Starsky & Hutch. Everything about this show was iconic; from the red and white car, Huggy Bear and David Soul's flares. It was marvellous. And the theme sounds as great now as it did then. What I learned today: Aaron Spelling produced this. I did not know that!



One of the most joyful songs of the 80s has to be Footloose. Who can sit still to this song? It's just toe-tappingly wonderful. One of my dear friends picked this to be played at my wedding disco and we did indeed kick off our sunday shoes and get back before we crack. I like to think we did Kevin proud.

Oh Kenny Loggins, the world would be a poorer place without you my friend. I am ambiguous about the film however. I know it is a little controversial to not love Footloose but I just can't stand Lori Singer and she goes quite a way to ruining it for me. It's noteworthy that she never did much after this. Possibly because she was so bad in it. She can't even dance. Who gave her this part? I also find the story hard to believe. I know that it's not really about buying into the story but a town that bans dancing?! Really? I thought I had it bad growing up in Essex but hey, we were allowed to dance at the local youth club.

On the plus side we have one of the best soundtracks of the 80s. Along with Kenny, we have Let's Hear It For The Boy, a song I still regularly bop along to. And Bonnie and Foreigner. It's a delight.

The major bonus of Footloose is, of course, Kevin Bacon. What a legend he is and a bit of a crush. He is sublime in this. I never had much time for Will & Grace but the episode with Kevin and the Footloose dancing has my crying with laughter. Here it is, it's at 49 seconds. Enjoy!

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Beverly Hills Cop

Gather round children as I inform you that once upon a time Eddie Murphy was funny. Yes, he was. And if you don't believe me then you need to watch Beverly Hills Cop but don't bother with the sequel.

This film came out in the golden year that was 1984, my favourite year of the 80s. The year of Wham's Wake Me Up Before You Go Go, Band Aid and a holiday in Frinton by Sea. My sister and I went to see this at Romford cinema in a double-bill (with Top Gun no less). Why do you never see double-bills anymore? They were fantastic. I defy you to come up with a better double-bill than this and Top Gun. We were in heaven.

This film is still funny now. I watched it a year or so ago and still giggled at the perfect scene in the hotel.

Only Eddie could pull off that speech.

It also had a kick-ass soundtrack with Patti Labelle, The Pointer Sisters (be still my beating heart) and Harold Faltermeyer. It also had this little beauty with one of the best introductions to an 80s song ever recorded.

Tell me can you feel it? Hell yeah! A contender for best film of the 80s. Almost enough for me to forgive The Nutty Professor and Dr Dolittle. Almost but not quite.

Monday, 18 April 2011

Bruce Springsteen - Born in the USA

I am well aware that a die-hard Bruce fan would be blogging about Nebraska or some rare bootleg or whatever. Whatever indeed because I am a Born in the USA girl through and through. I first heard this album, appropriately enough, in America and I still think it's great today.

Firstly, what an album cover. Iconic and so clever. This is what the download generation is missing folks. Great album covers of their youth. I pity them. So yes, a fab cover and some proper rock songs contained therein. Obviously there is Dancing in the Dark with the famous Courtney Cox appearance. She looks so young!  Did you know that Brian De Palma filmed that video? Nope, me either until tonight. Not sure why they needed him to be honest, it doesn't look very difficult to make. I love Bruce's dancing in this - such 80s dancing. Also seen in the prom scene in Pretty in Pink and Demi Moore's dancing in St Elmo's Fire.

Another favourite is I'm On Fire. I adore this song and always have. It's very low key but lovely. In fact, looking at the playlist, I realise I love all the songs on this. It's so blue-collar America and perfect. I did American Studies at university and it used to amuse us that someone on the course had chosen to write a dissertation on the lyrics of Bruce Springsteen but now I wish I had been more imaginative with my subject matter. I could have done mine on the depiction of teenagers on film. Why didn't I do that? Oh such regrets...

Born in the USA (the song) is an anthem. I am feeling nostalgic just listening to it. I really must listen to this whole album again and soon.

My favourite track on the album is Glory Days. I just love it. It has such a great video that I remember watching endlessly at my dad's one summer, back when MTV was good. I just love that guy in the bandana! I sound about a hundred so I shall leave it there and you with Glory Days. Oh and Bruce is 62. How did that happen?

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Power Ballads - I Can't Fight This Feeling, REO Speedwagon

"It's time to bring this ship into the shore and throw away the oars forever" Contender for some of the best lyrics ever! Oh how I love this song. This is classic power ballad material with some marvellous over the top guitar solos.

I learn quite a bit from writing this blog and today's lesson is that REO Speedwagon named themselves after a flatbed truck and fire engine. Who knew?

"And if I have to crawl upon the floor, come crushing through your door, baby I can't fight this feeling anymore."

Why would you? Enjoy!

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Opening credits - Knots Landing

Here we are with an all-time classic theme to Dallas spin-off Knots Landing. You know what I love about this? The fact that the camera zooms in on each house to show you each couple. Genius.

I never really watched this show although the credits are very familiar to me. If I wanted to catch up with it now, it would take me some time as it ran for fourteen seasons! Wow - that's pretty impressive. It also starred William Devane who is one of those actors I know when I see him in something but can never place. I just had to look him up. He was, of course, in 24.

And Donna Mills naturally. This is classic soap territory with a California setting and blonde, glam women. Marvellous.

Wednesday, 13 April 2011


When Glee burst on to our screens last year I described it as The Kids From Fame with irony and slickness. On reflection, that was generous of me. The first twelve episodes of Glee were great fun and I thoroughly enjoyed them. I consider the revival of Don't Stop Believin' to be a wonderful addition to our lives and I loved the rendition of Golddigger.

However, something happened when it came back after a break to finish season one. It somehow wasn't as enjoyable. I felt the novelty of Sue Sylvester had worn off somewhat and well, I just couldn't quite care in the same way. But I watched it until the end of season one and loved what they did with Poker Face. Also, Vogue = genius.

I eagerly awaited season two in the hope that it might stage a comeback but I'm afraid I watched in horror as I realised this show was a one-trick pony. Whole episodes themed around an artist are all very well when it's Madonna but Justin Bieber? Kill me now. A show dedicated to The Rocky Horror Show? A film that makes me want to pull my eyelashes out one by one so I can count them and have something to do other than watch tired, student tosh? Ummm, no. Gwyneth Paltrow? Seriously, no. I have major Gwynnie issues.

So I stopped watching it around episode four. I stuck around for Papa Can You Hear Me? however even that was not done well. You don't mess with Barbra. Rachel is no Barbra.

I was gleeful but I am no more. It's sad but there you go. There is enough quality television available and not enough time for me to pursue it so I have to be ruthless.  It feels a bit like a summer fling; exciting at the time but already I am looking back and thinking it was all a bit silly and a bit embarrassed. I still like Don't Stop Believin' so let's wave it goodbye to that. With added lyrical goodness. Enjoy!

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Power Ballads - If You Leave Me Now, Chicago

First Boston, now Chicago. Ahhh the great cities of America have done us proud. I have a soft spot for Chicago. I know nobody is surprised to read this, it's not like I've pretended to be a fan of death metal or anything.

When I was at university (in Hull, since you ask) me and my dear housemate used to talk far too much but we had a pact that we would study while the Late Night Love Affair* was on Viking radio and then reconvene to chat some more. It was the final year, we took it seriously. And so we'd go to our rooms, tune into Viking and this song was pretty much played every night. Like I ever got any studying done when Peter Cetera started warbling. What a legend he is. I love most Chicago songs, I am a fan of Hard To Say I'm Sorry and Hard Habit To Break (even though it's a weird song with that rocky sort of bit in the middle). Baby What A Big Surprise! One of the best song titles ever. But my desert island song is this one. Enjoy!

*All local radio stations have an equivalent I believe. Love songs requested by listeners. Viking's was legendary. Who knew Hull had so much romance?

Monday, 11 April 2011

Madonna - 80s

Trying to sum up Madonna in one blog post is not possible for me so I thought I'd do it by decades. And we begin at the beginning with my favourite decade in terms of looks. A look that inspired a million imitators. Nobody wore lace like Madonna.

In terms of music, it was a belter of a decade for our Madge. Like A Virgin still sounds good today and it had one of the best videos of all time. I've always been a big fan of Borderline, it has a really great intro. I've never liked Material Girl but I do love Papa Don't Preach. She was so much fun in the 80s. I've already discussed the joy that is Desperately Seeking Susan and we'll skip past Who's That Girl to talk about her marriage to Sean Penn. Now, I know I don't know Madonna (more's the pity because I know, like George Michael, we'd be mates although I'd make her eat some chocolate) but I believe Sean was her true love. Bratty and perfect together, I think she's always searched for what she had with Mr Penn but has never quite found it. I think we can all agree that with Guy she really was slumming it.

Back to 80s Madonna, the Madonna that inspired us all to dance in our bedrooms and wear way too much jewellery. She was an inspiration to a generation of school girls and when people tut and say she was just a wannabe and encouraged us to dress like sluts and couldn't really sing, it infuriates me. Madonna has always understood the business that is show and she may not have the world's best voice but she can dance better than pretty much any star of today, she had an innate understanding of her power and she's never had a public breakdown. In fact, I have always thought she looks like she really enjoys being famous. I'd rather be like Madonna than Cheryl Cole or Britney Spears frankly.

Amen to that. Let's look at her singing Like A Virgin. This outfit sums up the 80s!

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Power Ballads - Dream On, Aerosmith

Aerosmith are one of my favourite bands and I am ashamed to say I only discovered this song via Glee which is really embarrassing. However I have atoned since then by going to see them live last year and they were more than awesome, they were simply magnificent. Steve Tyler is a legend. They opening the gig with Love in an Elevator and I defy you to name a greater song to open a rock gig with. You can check out the full setlist here - I love that site.

When they got to Dream On, the crowd went wild. I think this sets the standard for a power ballad: overblown, bluesy singing, piano solo, guitar solo and a slow start building up to an epic climax. It's one of the best songs ever and it is coming with me to my desert island.

A word about the Glee version. I shall save my thoughts on Glee for another post but they did a great job with this song mainly because of Neil Patrick Harris who I love and adore. I have a fruitless crush on him.

But this song is Mr Tyler's and only he can yowl and do it full justice. Check out this video which doesn't work on here - the piano comes from the sky and lands on the stage. Epic. And here they are live. Enjoy!

Saturday, 9 April 2011

Opening credits - Falcon Crest

When I think of Falcon Crest, I think of Jane Wyman (Ronald Reagan's first wife) and I think of Lorenzo Lamas (Tom in Grease!) and of course, I think of the wonderful theme tune. What a show! It was eclipsed by Dynasty and Dallas but it really was a fine soap.

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Opening credits - All Creatures Great and Small

I read in the paper today that the composer of the theme to All Creatures Great and Small died last month. His name was Johnny Pearson and he also composed the theme to Superstars, a classic of our time.

I had a little listen to ACGAS and such a wave of nostalgia came over me. This was one of my nan's favourite programs and I have such fond memories of Sunday afternoon with a tray of tea and sandwiches watching this as a family. I haven't blogged about many (if any) British TV shows here as mainly, I grew up on a diet of Americana but this is British television at its best.

Join me in memories of it all being much simpler back then.

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Barbra Streisand

Tonight I am not in the mood to be annoyed and one of the things that really bugs me is when people do not know how to spell a legend's name. It's Barbra, not Barbara. OK?

OK, so let's discuss the wondrous, luminous, fabulous Babs. I love her. What a voice she has. Goosebumps don't even cover it. She has a voice like molten honey and any so-called divas today have nothing on her.

Not only has she got that voice, she's also a good actress. I am going to ignore her recent films and remind you of the genius of What's Up Doc? One of my favourite films ever, she is hilarious in it. I like that she never had her nose fixed and that her son is gay and well, godammit, I just love her and won't hear a word against her. The Way We Were? Hokum but thank you Babs for making it watchable and singing one of my top 10 songs of all time. A song that opens with humming.

I have many reasons for loving this song. One is the use of it in The Naked Gun 2:

Makes me giggle every time.

No Barbra tribute would be complete without mentioning Papa Can You Hear Me? This song is me and my gay best friend's song and no evening chez Andy is complete without throwing this on and singing along. Yeah, wine helps. Guilty, Evergreen, Woman in Love... I could go on and on.

So thanks for the memories Babs, here's to the laughter.

Monday, 4 April 2011

Pretty in Pink

Back to John Hughes once more for us to revisit Pretty in Pink. I remember this film coming out and everyone at school being obsessed with Andrew McCarthy. I've always missed the Andrew McCarthy crush gene. In this, he's positively wet and deserves a slap for the way he treats Andie. Come on, who wasn't on Team Duckie? Who could be on a Team supporting anyone called Blane?

Andie, good girl, literally from the wrong side of the tracks, meets Blane, rich spoilt kid who is friends with James Spader's wonderfully sleazy Steff. Duckie is her best friend and she works in a record shop with Iona who has the best line in the movie: "when the duck laid that kiss on me last night, I swear my thighs went up in flames. He must practice on melons or something!"

This is Jon Cryer's film. If you only know him from the dire Two and a Half Men, then you are missing out as he is adorable in this. Molly Ringwald is also sweet although that dress they put her in is completely hideous. I know it was the 80s but take it from me! Nobody wore anything quite that bad. And I grew up in Essex, I know what I am talking about.

My main beef with Pretty in Pink is that kids who were cool like Andie and Duckie would feel like outcasts, have problems making friends or would want anything to do with the horrible, shallow rich kids. I don't remember Blane doing anything nice to make Andie fall for him. Maybe I am taking it too seriously but 25 years after it was made, it still rankles, ok?!

Here is the trailer. Ahhh, the 80s. Weren't they grand?

Melrose Place

Melrose Place was the soap fan's soap of the 90s. If you didn't watch this, then I pity you as it was fantastic. A spin-off from Beverly Hills 90210, it was more grown-up and set, funnily enough on Melrose in LA.

It had a wobbly start because they just made everyone nice and dull so nobody cared. But then Aaron cast Heather Locklear and sexed the whole show up and suddenly it was unmissable. This coincided with a year I spent in the US doing my degree and on Wednesday nights they would show 90210 followed by Melrose. Man alive, were me and my roommates happy! We used to love it. Those were the days.

The storyline all Melrosians (just made that up but we'll go with it) remember fondly is the Kimberly one.  She went from:



OMG! It was the best television at the time! Kimberly was played by Marcia Cross who became a big star in Desperate Housewives. I was really pleased to see her pop up there as I always thought she was excellent in Melrose. Daphne Zuniga was also in this and I believe they brought her in as she was quite hot property having been in The Sure Thing (we'll save that classic 80s movie for another day) and she was good in this but her character was never well written. Heather was as good as she always is (ie brilliant) as the bitchy Amanda. The show was let down for me by the utterly tedious Billy and Alison (played by Courtney Thorne-Thomas - truly a drab actress) but no matter. We had Dr Mancini, Sydney and this show introduced us to Kristen Davies as Brooke.

It was simply the trashiest of television and all the better for it. Back in the days before the internet, it was hard to watch this once I came back to the UK as it was on Sky (and nobody had Sky back then - unimaginable I know!) but again my sister came up trumps as she videoed all the episodes in Sydney (where she lived at the time) and posted them to me. That, my friends, is love!

Classic opening credits, enjoy!

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Power Ballads - Gold, Spandau Ballet

I never had much time for Spandau Ballet however even bad 80s bands had their moments of glory and Gold is theirs. You can keep True which is just annoying and give me this any day of the week.

From the rather epic opening to Tony's soaring tones (see what I did there?!), it's simply wonderful in a fist clenching kind of way. Tony Hadley always sang like he really meant it - the man poured his body and soul into their songs, bless him.

Gold is a song I can always listen to. It just came on the radio thus inspiring this post and I sung along at the top of my voice while dancing round my bedroom. It's that kind of song. So I can forgive the boys their terrible haircuts, falling out, The Krays, Gary Kemp in The Bodyguard and Martin Kemp in Eastenders because they gave us this classic. Thank you boys.


Veronica Mars

Yet another show I have my sister to thank for. She told me to watch this and bought me the first season on DVD and yes, another obsession began.

Veronica Mars is about a 16 year old girl who solves crimes. That sounds really lame but it's awesome and the reason it is so awesome is down to some great writing and the wonderful Kristen Bell (the voice of Gossip Girl) who is fantastic in this. She's the outcast at school (having once been the popular girl) and the first season shows what happened in a series of flashbacks. Her best friend Lily is murdered and Veronica finds out who did it. Lily is played by Amanda Seyfried who is also excellent. The usual romance ensues along the way with the deeply yummy Logan (Jason Dohring) who I developed quite the crush on.

The best thing about this however, as if all that isn't enough, is that Harry Hamlin is in it! Yes, Mikey from LA Law! Always loved him, always will and he has great fun playing a sadistic dad.

There are three seasons of this and to my mind, there should have been more. Season two dipped a little in quality but season three was stellar. It's an intelligent show with teen appeal but also appeals more broadly. I heartily recommend it. It has some marvellous opening credits courtesy of the Dandy Warhols. Interestingly, they did a very different version for season three to reflect the darker nature of the show.

I present both for your delectation.

Saturday, 2 April 2011


Thirtysomething was all very intense. In the way television of the 80s and 90s was. This began in 1987 and only ran for four seasons so it is really an 80s show. It was so earnest, you just wanted to tell them to lighten up a bit.

Naturally I watched it. I used to love it and thought Michael and Hope were the perfect couple. On reflection they were really dull. Melissa was the interesting one, the one in love with Gary but it never worked out for them and then he met that snotty woman they all disliked. Then he died. I still can't quite believe they killed Gary. Along with Bobby's death in Dallas, I was traumatised.

The interesting thing about thirtysomething is what the cast all went on to do. Timothy Busfield (Eliot, who I loathed in this show) turned up as CJ's true love in The West Wing and redeemed himself. Peter Horton (Gary) played a guy on a bike in Singles in a little post-modern nod to his untimely death in this. Then, who knows where his career went? His high point was he was once married to Michelle Pfieffer. Ken Olin (Michael) turned to producing and directing - he directed some of the The West Wing. I always notice his name in credits. Patricia Wettig (Nancy) has been in loads of things including Brothers and Sisters - she's one of those actresses that just pops up all the time. And I've saved the best until last, Mel Harris (Hope) played Jen's mum in Dawson's Creek! A casting decision that made me feel really old.

Here are the opening credits which really do sum up the show beautifully.

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